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Parents of fallen serviceman seek meaning in sacrifice

Posted: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hundreds of people in front of NorthPark Community Church watch as the U.S. flag is raised at the Honor Court dedication ceremony on Sunday.

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An estimated 1,800 people packed NorthPark Community Church on Sunday night for a special service honoring those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and in the war on terrorism.

Among those who spoke were the parents of United States Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard “Ricky” P. Slocum, who died at the age of 19 on Oct. 24, 2004, while serving in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

“When we first found out about Ricky’s death, we had a difficult time to wrap our minds around it,” said his mother, Kay.

“Our first thoughts were, of course, that it couldn’t be true. Then, after that, we had to be strong, no matter how we would feel about going on or how we feel because we have two other wonderful children, we have a grandson and we have a God that is bigger than our pain and grief.

“We couldn’t make sense of it, but what we wanted more than anything was for God to use something intended for evil to end up for good,” she told the congregation. “So when we look at the Honor Court, that is our tangible proof that God is good.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar told the group he is impressed with the demonstrations made by Santa Clarita Valley citizens this past weekend in remembering 9/11.

“As I’ve made my way (around) this community this past weekend, I’ve been so impressed with the response of our citizens,” he said. “Everybody recognized this 10-year period and, from that, it’s clear to me that this entire nation has come together.”

With scores of servicemen and -women in uniform peppered throughout the church service, Kellar pointed out that among those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, were 403 police officers and firefighters.

“They shall be remembered in the minds and hearts of Americans forever,” he said. “Appropriately, this great nation answered back with a vengeance our adversaries could not have imagined.

“We learned first-hand what ‘One nation under God’ really means,” Kellar said.

The tribute culminated in the official unveiling of the church’s Honor Court — a permanent tribute on the front steps of the church featuring gold stars engraved with the names of those who died.

After the speeches, the congregation was asked to visit the memorial.

Battery-powered candles were handed out to those who attended and wanted to take part in a vigil.

Once outside, the 11-member Veteran’s Burial Squad punctuated the official unveiling of the Honor Court with a 21-gun salute.

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