May 27, 2002

TODAY IS MEMORIAL DAY - the first since the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the start of the war in Afghanistan. Today is a day of remembrance heightened by continuing violence in the Middle East and warnings of inevitable further attacks on our citizens. A day that is always bittersweet is, for many this year, more bitter than sweet.

Memorial Day is observed now on the last Monday of May rather than on May 30, as it was in my childhood, giving a lot of us a three-day weekend at the height of spring. Many retail stores are open today, traditionally a day of giant sales. The employees of those businesses must share attention to their jobs with their thoughts of those lost in battle.

In the life I was living before September 11, I might have imagined myself above shopping for bargains on a holiday dedicated to fallen soldiers and innocents. And after a short memorial service, I would be focused primarily on having a great time at a barbecue or picnic.

At the Save Our Sunol annual picnic today, I will read a thoughtful poem by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, about the cycle of life and death, love and loss. We will honor the fallen, place flowers at the base of the Memorial Tree, and sing together of our sorrow and our hopes for peace.

Then we will enjoy a wonderful day of picnic foods, catching up with friends and neighbors, meeting some new folks, flying kites, and treasuring the simple pleasures of watching our children and our canine pals romping on the Sunol Glen grounds.

Yet, so much is different that I know today will feel like no other Memorial Day in my personal history. I am choosing my poem with the world situation alive in my mind. The fallen will encompass those lost on September 11 and in the conflicts since, and I know the heartbreaking, shocking images seen again and again in the media will flood our minds. Our flowers will be placed more reverently and our song will be punctuated by fought-back - and not so successfully fought-back - tears.

These are fitting feelings in such times. But so are the other feelings available to us today. We are a strong people because of our communities, our connections with each other and our shared activities. In the natural beauty of Sunol, with our kids and pups cavorting nearby, we will eat and talk together, sway to Debra Knox's music and sometimes sing along to favorite tunes. We need our joy and hope to make peace possible, and as I remember those whose lives were so tragically cut short, I will also remember how grateful I am to live here with all of you.

GOLFING FOR OUR HEROES: How appropriate today to tell you about Sunol Valley Golf Club's 5th Annual Frank O. Ivaldi Memorial Golf Tournament on June 3. The day will be filled with so much more than a great round on the course, including Raider legends such as attention to their jobs, performances by the Raiderettes, good food and drink including lunch provided by the Outback Steakhouse and dinner prepared by Sunol Valley's esteemed chef, Sedgie Davis. And best of all, the proceeds benefit humanitarian Frank Ivaldi's two favorite charities.

The C. Koffman One Hundred Club supports families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty as a member of the Alameda County Police or Fire Departments. The California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation offers similar services to families of fallen CHP personnel. In other words, this tournament supports the families of our local emergency services providers, the brave men and women we all count on in everyday emergencies and catastrophic events.

The all-inclusive fee per person for golf, prizes, lunch, dinner, beverages and snacks on the course, silent and live auctions and more is $150. Those who aren't able to make the tournament are welcome to attend the dinner at $50 per person. You can register on line at www.sunolvalley.com, or call Lisa Granzella at (925) 862-2404 ext. 309 to register, advertise or volunteer to help with this worthwhile event.

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