The Sonoma Valley Joint Memorial Day Observance will take place this year at 11 a.m. Monday, May 29.
This year marks the 59th time this annual hometown event has taken place. The location will once again be the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park adjacent to the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall building. This year will also be the 12th anniversary of the unveiling of the Star of Honor fountain, which is now the centerpiece for the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park.
Attracting an audience of more than 1,000 people annually, seating is limited. Although pop-up tent canopies will provide shade for many in the audience, not every chair will be under these canopies.
All veterans are invited to wear their military uniforms (or appropriate attire) and participate in the grand march at the opening of the ceremony. Veterans who want to participate in this grand march are requested to muster at 10:30 a.m. beneath the flag of their particular branch of the armed forces in the parking lot.
The guest of honor and keynote speaker is U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Overn, who graduated from Sonoma Valley High School in 2001. He is a Naval aviator currently stationed at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey pursuing a master’s degree in strategic studies with a focus on European security.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and received his commission in the U.S. Navy via the University of Idaho-Washington State University Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps in 2006. Following graduation, he completed flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and earned his Navy “Wings of Gold” in 2007 becoming a helicopter pilot.
Overn has deployed overseas several times, to include tours of duty on-board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in support of disaster relief efforts for the earthquake in Haiti in early 2010 and again onboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in support of military operations in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
He is married to the former Nicole Gonzales, also a Sonoma Valley High School graduate in 2001. They have two children.
The master of ceremonies will be retired Marine Corps Reserve Col. William E. Peacock. A Vietnam war veteran, Peacock also served in a civilian capacity as the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The ceremony will conclude with an aerial fly-over consisting of various military inspired civilian aircraft flown by the Sonoma Sky Park aviators.
Following the ceremony, the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley All-American Picnic will be served free of charge at the Veterans Building.