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'Today is their day' | Soldiers honored for their ultimate sacrifice for Memorial day in Lodi

Hundreds turned out for the ceremonies at Cherokee Memorial Park & Funeral Home

LODI, Calif. — Veteran Arthur Valenzuela's family and widow Irene surrounded his final resting place in Lodi.

"It was just was very touching when I came though and sat here, because it is recent for me and I'm still processing, still grieving," said Valenzuela.

Valenzuela served in the Army as a baker in the war in Vietnam and survived to become a minister.

But for those who didn't make it, they were remembered at Cherokee Memorial Park & Funeral Home in Lodi.

"Many of you out there know someone or know a friend of a friend of a friend who may have lost their life in service for our country. Today is their day," said Major General (Retired) Eldon Regua, U.S. Army.

Veterans in attendance were recognized by their branch of service. Wreaths were presented for those who died fighting. Overhead, four planes performed the missing man aerial salute.

There are 8,200 flags on the park grounds representing those who served, including 40 flags for those killed in action.

98-year old Frank Wright was also at the ceremony. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, he said he enlisted when he was 16.

He served in the Marines in Guam and Iwo Jima during World War II.

"I was shot with a machine gun on my chest and arm," said Wright.

He was also stabbed with a bayonet and received two Purple Hearts. He believes schools need to teach more about World War II, so it won't be forgotten.

This was the 66th annual "Avenue of Flags" program at Cherokee Memorial Park.


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