More than 300 people came to the cemetery for the annual ceremony

PASO ROBLES — More than 300 people showed up for the return of the Paso Robles District Cemetery’s Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 30. The event honors and remembers the men and women who lost their lives in service to our country.

The cemetery began its memorial ceremonies in 1980 when patriotic District Cemetery board members wanted to honor veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Unfortunately, the annual ceremonies took a break over the last two years due to covid-19 restrictions; however, this year, they were able to bring back the greatly anticipated event.

In preparation for Memorial Weekend, local Boy and Girl Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) Post 10965, and American Legion Post 50 members placed American flags on each veteran’s grave on Saturday.


The ceremony began with the National Anthem, led by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America local Paso Robles chapter, followed by the Master of Ceremonies Skip Bellinghausen, thrilled to welcome everyone back after the two-year hiatus. 

Guest speakers who took the stage reminded the public what the day’s meaning was really about.

Local veteran Rex Thornhill kicked off the event as the first guest speaker, followed by Paso Robles VFW Post 10965 Commander Salvador Cota.  

“It is said that where one story ends, another begins. Know their lives were cut short, our absent comrades have ensured that the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution hold true for everyone. Some of whom may not otherwise been entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Cota shared. 

He continued, “Memorial Day is a rare day, an opportunity to give thanks for what we have been blessed with even though the significance of this day becomes at times confused or distorted and the true meaning is sometimes lost to commercialism or drowned in forgetful indulgence.”

The importance of understanding America’s freedom and how it came to be, was at the forefront of each speech. 

Tiffany Tedeschi followed the guest speakers and sang “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood, bringing the entire crowd to their feet. A local veteran attending the event gazed up at one of the American Flags close by and wiped a tear from his face.  

The ceremony winded down with the Honor Guard performed by four active duty service members from Camp Roberts, Taps played by Alex Von Dollen, and the Raising of the Flag by the American Legion Riders, Chapter 50. 

At the end of the ceremony, the Estrella Warbirds flew over the cemetery grounds at noon with red, white, and blue planes. 

Following the ceremony, coffee, lemonade, and cookies were provided by the Cemetary, and a hot dog lunch was supplied by Kuehl-Nicolay Funeral Home, which helped plan and hosts the event. 

“It was wonderful to be able to have the event once again and bring the community together after two years,” Tina Doxtater of Kuehl-Nicolay Funeral Home said. 

See more of Paso Robles Press’s photos from the day here.