TANF and Soboba Fire Department help carry on legacy started by Marian Chacon’s family
■ By Mike Hiles / ContrIbuted
On Memorial Day, the day of remembering and honoring those who served our nation, the Soboba youth council helped organize and prepare the Soboba Cemetery for the Memorial Day Flag Ceremony that included a blessing of the veterans’ memorial and graves.
At dawn on Memorial Day, the Soboba Fire Department raised the American, Californian, and Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians flags to full-staff, then slowly lowered them to half-staff.
At 11 a.m., the Soboba community joined together at the cemetery for the reading of the names of all 57 veterans buried at the cemetery, the performing of the blessing, and the raising of the flags to full-staff. Amelia Arres and Mia Basquez read off the 57 names.
Soboba youth council president Asona Arres welcomed and thanked the crowd for joining them on Memorial Day as they honor those who served.
The memorial and gravesites decorated with American flags were blessed by Father Earl Henley of Saint Joseph Soboba Mission Catholic Church. Mass was held at the church prior to the blessing at the cemetery.
Fire Chief Randy Sandoval of the Soboba Fire Department, Frank Gallerito-Basquez (Navy), and Primo Reynoso (Marines) raised the flags after the blessing by Father Henley while a bugler played “Taps.” The flags remained at full-staff until sunset.
Several days prior, the Soboba youth council, along with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Soboba Fire Department, cleaned and placed American flags on the graves of veterans.
For years, Marian Chacon, along with her mother and aunt, would clean the veterans’ graves and place the flags. Chacon took over the organization of this event on her own when her mother and aunt passed away in 1995.
“I had help putting out the flags after that,” said Chacon. “It wasn’t just me. My friends and family helped me.”
Chacon says she is incredibly grateful to her family members, friends, the Soboba youth council, TANF and the Soboba Fire Department for their involvement in continuing this tradition.
Chacon is incredibly involved and active with the tribe. She is also an organizer of the War on Drugs Walk with Linda Resvaloso.
Activities director and Soboba youth council coordinator Jennifer DeVore-Garcia was approached by Chacon a couple years ago to involve the youth council. DeVore-Garcia loved the idea and asked TANF to join in collaboration. The Soboba Fire Department became involved last year.
“When I was approached by Marian to help, I asked TANF if it would collaborate with us,” said Devore-Garcia as she organized the flags. For Devore-Garcia, it is a family affair. Her daughter, Ashlynn, also helps in the cleanup and placing of the flags.
Soboba fire department engineer Jacob Briones with Captain Raul Licon and firefighter Joey Mendoza participated in guiding the kids and in the cleaning and preparation of the cemetery for the upcoming ceremony.
“People kept coming up to me after the ceremony and thanking me,” said DeVore-Garcia. “It was really nice.”
After the ceremony, the Soboba Youth Council hosted a luncheon at the Soboba Sports Complex and invited everyone who attended the blessing and flag ceremony.
There are 38 veteran tribal members and 19 non-tribal veterans who are buried at the Soboba Cemetery.