RIVERSIDE, Calif. - On this Memorial Day, families arrived early at the cemetery in Riverside dedicated to the internment of US military. As far as the eye could see, American flags were blowing in the wind; raw emotion in the air.
From my car window, I saw a family weeping and a man and a woman seemingly comforting them. My camera crew and I rolled footage from afar and then introduced ourselves.
It turned out the families we saw had just met. Glenn Parker, a Vietnam War veteran and an evangelical, and his wife introduced themselves to the Narmore and Alyea families. The Narmore family was present to honor a dad and uncle who served on the same ship in the navy in Korea. The Alyea family honored Mark’s dad, who received a Purple Heart for his distinguished service in the U.S. Army.
There at the gravesites of their loved ones, the Parker’s comforted them. Strangers — yet bonded in grief.
Mr. Parker played taps on his harmonica and spoke eloquently about grief. Mrs. Narmore said of the chance encounter " He played taps. It was a heartfelt surprise, really wonderful. "
By the time we left, the three families were hugging like long-lost friends.
Across the cemetery, more tears were flowing. James Gay saluted his late father, Robert Gay, and thanked him for his military service and for being a great dad. He shook with emotion when he spoke of his father.
Maria Recomanta, of Fontana, sat with her mother by her dad’s gravesite. She said her father was very proud of his military service as an Army Private. He requested when he died to be buried in his military uniform. Under a brilliant blue sky, she shared memories of her father Juan Gonzales and the honor he carried with him to his grave.