Enjoy, Honor and Celebrate This Memorial Weekend

May 25, 2012

Bakersfield National Cemetery

For each branch of service
Photos by Donna Royal

Rest in Peace

When I was a child we lived on a small farm at the foot of Bear Mountain, southeast of Bakersfield, California, near the town of Arvin. I walked, hiked, hunted and explored the mountains, hills, valleys and streams of the area. There were two major landmarks in the area. The Cross and the Eleven Mile “Y.” The Cross was an old steel pipe cross covered with wood, painted white, sticking out of the top of a pile of rocks with a view of the entire San Joaquin Valley. Sunrise services were held there every Easter. It was about 7 miles up the Bear Mountain grade on the way to the Eleven Mile “Y” where county road 223 (Main Street in Arvin) connected with state highway 58.

On this last trip to Bakersfield, Donna and I decided to take my mother for a ride. We decided to make the loop out and around Arvin. We slow dragged Main Street thinking how many times we had done it as kids stopping at the local drive-in to get a cherry coke, a green river or a pine float. The local Circle Dot, as it was called, was gone, but there was a McDonalds in town. We didn’t stop. We drove by our old house in town, the high school and then headed out of town up the grade, passed the farm where we had lived and my dad managed for the owner. No, we didn’t own it. The farm was gone too, it was now part of giant water storage project.

The town was about the same as when I was growing up except then it was about 96% farm laborers from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri – all called “Okies.”  Today, according the local chamber, the town is still about 96% farm labors but today they are of Mexico descent.

Soon we spotted the Cross and slowed down in reverence as we passed it by on our way to the “Y.” Memories came rushing back as I remembered riding, mostly walking my bike up the grade on many occasions and then coasting back down at break-neck speeds. As I remember it, it would take a couple of hours to get up the grade but only about 10 minutes to come flying back down. Pure adrenaline rush. It is a wonder I didn’t kill myself. There wasn’t much traffic in those days and there still isn’t. Just for clarification it is eleven miles from Arvin to the Y.

As one approaches the top of the grade you enter a golden valley studded with beautiful old oak trees and natural grasses. When I was a kid, this is where the cows roamed; part of the giant Tejon Ranch Company. Bear Mountain has it seasons, starting with snow white caps in winter, lush green grasses in early spring changing to rainbows of wildflowers, golden poppies, purple lupines and yellow daisies, but by summer it is bone dry and golden brown. Always an awesome site. We had many a picnic (baloney sandwiches) while resting under one of the old oak trees. Note: That is the Okie spelling of bologna.

On this day as we entered the valley we saw something new…a sign, it was Bakersfield National Cemetery. My mother had told us it was up here but Donna and I had not seen it before. We pull in for a visit. It was beautiful, it had this wonderful peaceful feeling, it felt like home. What a wonderful place for a Cemetery, so quiet, so peaceful and so beautiful. The Cemetery is situated on 500 acres of rolling hills and was donated by the Tejon Ranch Company. It was dedicated December 7, 2008. Bakersfield National Cemetery will provide burial space for eligible California veterans and spouses for at least the next 50 years according to their brochure. The cemetery serves an estimated 187,000 veterans in California. The National Cemetery Administration honors veterans with final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorate their service to our nation. What does it cost? It is free for those that served with honor. http://www.cem.va.gov/

On this Memorial day let us also give thanks to those that have served our country. Not just those that have died in its honor but all those that have served. May we suggest if you know someone that is serving or has served that you give them a call or send them and email and let them know how much you appreciate their service, for if it was not for them, you would not have the freedom you have today.

Enjoy, Honor and Celebrate this Memorial Weekend.

Carlos, Donna and Austin

We are in good hands
Spencer is 5 from the left.

We want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to our granddaughter Ashley’s husband, Spencer Harris and his buddies currently serving in Afghanistan.

Other Goodies  (Father’s Day is coming up June 17th)

Have you ordered your personal copies of the Molly Songs?   If not be sure to check them out on iTunes.

Music:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/barbara-allen/id428385724

Merchandise:  www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl

Photo of McGee by Carlos Royal   http://www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl.628020845

Books:  www.mollytheowlbooks.com

Molly Watchers E-Cookbook  http://mollytheowlbooks.com/store/books-bookmarks/molly-watchers-e-cookbook.html

Movies:  www.austin4media.com

2012   Calendar   www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl

Austin’s Designs (Your purchases help him pay for his schooling)   http://www.cafepress.com/austin4media

29 Responses to “Enjoy, Honor and Celebrate This Memorial Weekend”

  1. Bonita Lyon Says:

    Amen….I put the link on my website. Thanks so much, Carlos. Enjoyed so much..Bonnibell

  2. Donna Says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories, I enjoyed reading about your childhood! It sounds like a beautiful place.

  3. Karen in Sebring Says:

    Carlos, Thank you so much for posting the Bakersfield National Cemetery. My husband and his brothers were born and raised in Bakersfield. The golden hills make the setting just awesome! We are proud to be Americans from Kern County and Bakersfield~God bless the Vets!

  4. mandozee1888 Says:

    Carlos: thanks for the great tail and your right we should all give our thanks to those who served in the past and today and tomorrow so we can be free. mandozee1888

  5. Ginny Says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Healani AKA FoxyTuTu Says:

    How beautiful I never knew they had a military cemetery in Bakersfield. .My parents are both buried at Fort Rosecrans, it is so beautiful there over looking the ocean.

  7. PegRod Says:

    What a wonderful way you tell a story, Carlos, and give depth of meaning for your fans to an otherwise notable, but relatively new, National Cemetery. The Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA, was established in 1882, but became a National Cemetery in 1934. It is closed to new burials, but has space for cremated remains in new areas for veterans of WWII. I understand that San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio was established in 1884 and is also closed to new internments. In my early years, I had only heard of Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, DC.

    In fact, I did not know how many National Cemeteries there are in either Molly’s State of California (nine) or in the USA – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites. And there are more, as you can imagine all over the world, men and women who also answered the call to serve their countries.

    Thanks for the photographs, too, Donna – how interesting are the monuments for each branch of the service resting under the branches of that beautiful tree.

    Memorial Day, a day to remember and think about the love, faith, sense of duty, and courage motivating those now gone, but never forgotten.

  8. gmarch53 Says:

    (((Carlos))) I also have memories of my childhood spent on my Grandfather’s farm…where I first learned to “drive” a tractor (@ age 8) and the Sweet Smell of fresh Tomatoes and Strawberries here in Ohio. My Father is a Veteran of the Korean War and is still w/me..Bless You and Your Family and Bless The USA!!!

    • Carlos Royal Says:

      I don’t remember when I first learned to dirve a tractor but it was before I learned to drive a car and I got my California driver’s License at age 14.

  9. Holly Sue Says:

    Dear Carlos.
    Thank you so much for sharing your remembrances of childhood and your return to places dear in the past. The new Bakersfield Cemetery is a place of peace and tranquility to honor those who gave us their most precious gift. No words can thank our honored soldiers enough…including you. May you and your family enjoy a peaceful Memorial Day.
    Love to you, Holly Sue

  10. Sue Couch Says:

    Thanks, Carlos and Donnal for the photos and the reminiscences. Let’s hope and pray that the Bakersfield Cemetery will go unused soon and will not fill up in the next 50 years! Enjoy the weekend!

  11. VSue Says:

    Thank you for the lovely tour of the valley and hill and photos. Feel like I was there too! Now a new place to add to my must visit places to see for myself.

    Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend

  12. BJ Says:

    Your writings are so real…I am glad to have come to know you, your family and M & M. Thank you, Carlos and Donna. God bless you this day and always.

  13. PegRod Says:

    Memory Lane
    Molly and McGee
    Molly’s Memorial Day Tribute

    I am posting these links from last year a few days early.

    May 29, 2011 – Molly America’s Most Famous Barn Owl

    MODs love this image of Molly created by Carlos Royal and Chris Adams (as a team, I think – correct me if I am mistaken).

    You may not believe this, but last year there was a story online about a farmer in India having found “An American Molly Owl” in his fields. That is how famous Molly is. They speculated if the owl might have somehow stowed away on a cargo ship from the Pacific Coast of the US. It is possible, since I read another story where barn owls were nesting in a “grave yard” military ship. As we learned over time in live chat on The Owl Box and in Carlos Royal’s Live Narration sessions, barn owls are found all over the world. The following site is well organized with information about the variety of barn owls (I don’t know about the products).

    May 30, 2011 – Memorial Day Gift –

    The next day Carlos (always working hard with Chris Adams to keep these things current) posted a free download of that same poster. Although that poster was available in 2011, it no longer exists, but you can find other memorabilia when you click on the image.

    I personally love all things Molly, which can be enjoyed for free or brought home. The video for “Vote Molly” will always be a favorite of mine for the values highlighted (you can find it on YouTube). I think our current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would be proud to have Molly as an Ambassowlder of Good Will! McGee’s spirt lives on, like those who fought to defend their own countries and families, and in today’s modern world to not only fight, but to help build and to support the “communities of us”.

    With a grateful heart….

  14. CAequuslvr Says:

    Carlos, you give such wonderful descriptions I feel like I am right there. I always injoy your “videologs”. My father was career Air Force (WWII & Korea) so I totally appreciate what our current military & veterans represent.
    Thanks for the updates on all of the birds.

  15. Mike Meyer Says:

    Nice story Uncle Carlos about the cross and the “y” and your trip to the National Cemetary. Now that I have become a cyclist that same route is part of rides. We call it the White Wolf Grade. We always stop at the Cemetary for water and use the facilities. We also do a ride out there on Veterans Day. A few of us have family buried there so it is nice to also visit them while we’re there. On June 6th it will be two years since Debbie’s dad joined the other Vets as his final resting place. It becomes a regular stop any time we pass by going on Hwy 58.

    It always reminds me of mom when I’m out there riding cause she always talked about it too. It’s an honor to share those same feelings and memories with you as well.

    We recently did a ride with two Vets from Bakersfield to Arvin then the Cemetary and on up to Tehacapi. One of them is a double ampute and they finish their ride across America On Memorial Day. It was a 100 day journey on bicycles to raise money for Vets to deal with post war issues. I was truly honored to have rode the first 52 miles of that journey with them. I believe they have one last fundraiser when they get back to town.

    It was nice to see you two again and to listen to your wisdom.

    Wisdom shared is never lost.

    Take care.

    Mike Meyer

  16. PegRod Says:

    It is hard to believe, but many of the homeless men and some women on America’s city streets and shelters are Veterans of many wars who lost hope, could not find jobs or became addicted to pain killers of various kinds – they gave their lives, too. Don’t forget them.

    Donations to Wounded Warriors and other veterans’ organizations are always welcomed. Many military families watched Molly the Owl and are part of the world family.

    Ustream itself was created just so military families could communicate from home to worldwide assignments, to help keep families strong, especially for children.

  17. PegRod Says:

    John “VacaDude” Atkinson (Owl Box cartoonist) participated in the making of the companion documentary “Double Victory” shown on the History Channel this year. This film was co-created and produced by George Lucas to accompany the recent film “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American aerial unit of WWII. There is even an education guide for teachers here.

    There are so many well-done books, television mini-series and theater movies now, telling the stories of many wars from all perspectives, and by reading or watching them, we become more aware of what the men and women who fight the battles on land, sea and air go through, as they live and die.

    • PegRod Says:

      “Forest Gump” is a favorite “war” movie of mine – Forest, quoting his wise mom, said, “Life is like a box of owlets, you never know whatcha gonna get!” – oh, that’s right, it was “chocolates”. Well, we learned that owlets come in all varieties, too! The actor who plalyed the paraplegic has continued to support fundraisiung and awareness efforts for returning disabled vets. I will always remember how angry that character was that he did not die during battle, since Forest saved his life, but had to come home to figure out how to survive and finally thrive as a disabled vet.

  18. PegRod Says:

    Just saw the last photo in the blog entry – Is Spencer the one in the middle of the group of soldiers? I looked back at the wedding photos – MODs felt we were part of that Royal wedding, too! Now Ashley is a graduate and Spencer is working hard in Afghanistan – yes, we are in good hands.

  19. FloridaSkye Says:

    Thank you, Carlos and Donna, for this wonderful memorial. My brother-in-law (and my sister and their children) served our country in the Navy for 30 years. And, yes, I have thanked them many times for their service. On this Memorial Day, God bless all who serve and have served. FloridaSkye

  20. Roger Says:

    Carlos, thanks so much for the great photos and for sharing your wonderful memories with us. We are indebted to you and to all of the other dedicated men and women who have given so much of yourselves in the service of our country. We will be thinking about all of you this Memorial Day.

  21. KG in CA Says:

    Thanks for bringing us along on your journey. I was raised in Delano, and my Mom and sister are in Bakersfield now.

  22. owloverbo Says:

    Thank you for your service to all of our Vets. I am thankful for you and your sacrifices. Prayers to keep Spencer and his buds safe.

  23. sandy/Racoona Says:

    I had no idea that cemetery existed. Nice photos. I had a wonderful Memorial Day, celebrating with the local Post 3795 in San Marcos as well as helping with the flowers at the San Marcos cemetery (close to the Royal home!). Thank you to all our service men, women and K-9’s!

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