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Pete’s Perspective: The Spirit Behind SVMHS’ Celebration of Memorial Day

Pete’s Perspective: The Spirit Behind SVMHS’ Celebration of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time to honor the loss of those who fought for our freedoms. It is also a time to remember the families and friends of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, this recognition is a foundational part of our hospital’s history. It is a tradition that remains important today and one we will continue. Monterey County’s longstanding military presence is testament to service above self.

During World War II, our farms and ranches along with our fishing industry fed troops around the globe. The war effort, widely supported locally and nationally, took a heavy toll on people in communities everywhere. It united them in an experience that forever changed their lives. For the Salinas Valley, the impact was especially significant.

On February 18, 1941, thousands of Central Coast residents turned out to salute 105 men in Company C 194th Tank Battalion of the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys as they marched together to the train station in Salinas. It was the first leg of their journey toward what would become known as The Bataan Death March. Salinas lost more men per capita in Bataan than any other town in the United States. Just 47 of those men returned home to their families.

The postwar years brought booming economies and growing populations. In Salinas, efforts to build a new hospital – which began in 1941 and were stalled by the war – finally achieved success. When our hospital was dedicated in 1953, Roy Diaz, one of the 47 men who returned home to Salinas after heroic service in Bataan, was there. He unveiled a plaque memorializing the hospital as: “Dedicated to the health of the community in memory of the men and women of the Armed Forces who made the supreme sacrifice for their community and their nation.” That dedication and honor continue to hold true.

I stand with many of you today, proud to have served my country in uniform and grateful now to be serving my community. It is a privilege to serve. Those who give everything for the nation they love deserve our deepest respect.

As SVMHS honors the men and women who have died in U.S. military service, join us in reflecting on the meaning behind Memorial Day. Hundreds of small flags will line the exterior of the hospital over Memorial Day weekend. We invite you to visit this tribute and to pause a moment in recognition and remembrance of those whose sacrifices paved the way for our freedom.

Be safe and be well.

– Pete

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