A little bit about a lot of things:

• The nation will pause this weekend in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom, when Memorial Day observances are held at cemeteries across the country.

Memorial Day by strict definition is a national holiday dedicated to honoring our nation’s war dead, but is also a time to remember and honor all deceased veterans.

Those who fell in battle are a nation’s heroes but were by no means alone in their sacrifice. Many veterans who returned from the battlefields around the world carried scars (both physical and unseen) the rest of their lives.

They, too, paid a heavy price for freedom and are to be remembered for their service.....as are all who wore the uniforms of the United States armed forces.

Those who served, and those who go in harm’s way today, have preserved our many freedoms....including that to go about the three-day Memorial Day weekend thinking of little more than trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and holiday sales at the mall.

I would love to see more people take an hour or two out of that weekend to pay tribute to our departed veterans by attending a local ceremony....or simply take a moment to reflect and appreciate, or perhaps fly the flag in their honor.

Two Memorial Day programs are in store this weekend.....Sunday morning at 9 at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery near Santa Nella, and Monday morning at 11 in our own Hills Ferry Cemetery near Newman.

I often attend both, and while the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery program is powerful and moving I have always been partial to the smaller gathering held each year at Hills Ferry Cemetery.

It is less formal and far smaller in scale....but there is something very striking about gathering with friends and neighbors, surrounded by the peaceful grounds and green trees, to honor the more than 800 veterans buried in the local cemetery.

Enjoy, by all means, the holiday weekend.

But remember as well that the freedoms we enjoy came at a heavy price paid by others on our behalf.

• Not uncommon to see participants in the local Stable Living program volunteering at events around town or doing things like taking pancake breakfast around to businesses on National Pancake Day. The non-profit organization serves developmentally disabled adults, and has been wonderful for not only those involved but for the community as a whole.

One local business decided to pay back that generosity recently.

The local Rabobank staff was recently given $100 to contribute back into the community as they chose in recognition of Small Business Week......and decided to treat the Stable Living crew to pizza in appreciation of their many contributions.

The pizza was a hit....and what a wonderful gesture on the part of the local Rabobank folks!

• Inspiring story last week about former West Sider Frank Amaral, who has endured two bouts with cancer and has since taking up cycling for both relaxation and good health. Amaral plans to take part in a 100-mile Lake Tahoe ride in early June to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The link to his fund-raising website last week was inadvertently hyphenated, so here is a shortened version: tiny.cc/amaral. No hyphens involved.....please help Frank reach his very worthy goal!

• Cap-and-gown time has arrived, and the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” will soon be in the air as local schools hold eighth-grade promotion and high school graduation ceremonies.

Happy to report that this year, the Newman and Gustine graduations are once again in back-to-back weeks rather than taking place on the same evenings.

From a purely personal standpoint, that means two weeks of what feels like non-stop graduations so it is a very busy time....but the many people who want to attend the ceremonies in both communities will once again be able to do so this year.

And, if it’s not 105 degrees out (which we’ve seen) or raining (which we’ve also seen, though less frequently), graduations are generally a lot of fun.

Ceremonies are set for May 30-31 in the Newman-Crows Landing district and June 5-7 in Gustine....congratulations in advance to the respective classes of 2019!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.