Unaccompanied veterans ceremony ensures proper sendoff for fallen service members


ARVIN, Calif.  (KGET) – Ensuring a proper sendoff for a fallen veteran is the least that can be done after they’ve given so much. Local veterans gathered on a rainy Tuesday morning at Bakersfield National Cemetery to ensure that 20 veterans who did not have someone to give them their last farewell were remembered and given the military honors that they deserved.

“We have a saying that no one is truly forgotten until their name is spoken for the last time,” said Director of Bakersfield National Cemetery Cindy Van Bibber. 

For those whose name is not spoken after they are gone, they count on their military brothers and sisters.

A complete list of the names of veterans honored during an unaccompanied veteran ceremony at Bakersfield National Ceremony on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

“The day that they are buried they are unaccompanied,” said Benjamin P. Palmer who is a member of the Associated Veterans Honor Guard.  “They [veterans] are part of the military family, they are part of the veteran family.”

Every 3 months, the Bakersfield National Cemetery ensures that those that gave their lives are remembered.

“We are here to make sure that they get the proper military honors in place of the day that they were interred,” said Van Bibber. 

Following the pandemic, ceremonies are starting yet again.  Strict restrictions prevented families from gathering for funerals or memorials, during a time where death ran rampant.

“It’s been a long time,” said Debby Duffel.  “It’s nice to take care of the people that took care of us and to be included in that family, it’s very honoring.”

For the families that simply couldn’t attend, the ceremonies serve as a reminder that the departure of their dearly beloved was not in vain.

“Emotions are never the same,” said Palmer.   “The biggest thing for me is how we leave the families.”

As the mournful bugle plays its 24 notes, the names of 20 veterans are called. Each one remembered for the ultimate sacrifice they gave.

“It’s expected, it’s a way to honor them and make sure that their service is not forgotten,” said Van Bibber.  “No matter what just remember the sacrifices of those gentlemen and those women that have given their ultimate.”

Due to the limited capacity, the Bakersfield National Cemetery hopes it can invite the public at the next ceremony. For now, anyone who wants to pay tribute and honor the fallen can get involved with Wreaths Across America.  For more information, please visit waabakersfield.org


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