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Residents gather to honor local veterans at 50th anniversary of Coachella Valley Public Cemetery ceremony

A ceremony was held Thursday morning at the Coachella Valley Public Cemetery in Coachella to honor all our local veterans.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of this ceremony, which returned after smaller but many of its traditional elements. Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony, with young and old residents pausing to honor all the veterans they know and those they didn't get a chance to meet.

The Coachella Valley High School choir opened the ceremony with their rendition of the national anthem. Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony, which featured a gun salute and a prayer for fallen veterans and wounded warriors.

"This day is a remembrance of all who have served and we are remembering all who have served and have passed," said Luis Bernal, a veteran who served with the Marine Corps for 7 years.

Elisa Leyva holding a picture of her father, Daniel Guice, a WWII veteran, who is buried at Coachella Valley Public Cemetery

The family of Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez was in attendance. The 22-year-old Indio native was killed in August during a terrorist attack amid evacuations at an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Lopez has a plaque on the cemetery's "Ultimate Sacrifice" wall, which represents military members from Riverside County who lost their lives protecting our freedoms from various wars.

Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez Plaque at Coachella Valley Public Cemetery

More than 1,600 veterans are estimated to be buried in the Coachella Valley Public Cemetery. On Wednesday, volunteers gathered at the cemetery to place nearly 900 wreaths on the tombstones of local fallen veterans.

County Supervisors Manuel Perez was also in attendance for the ceremony. Perez said Riverside County has the 8th latest veteran population in the United States and the 3rd largest in the state.

Jesus Reyes

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