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Memorial Day is not entirely ignored in city of Berkeley

By Matthew Artz Special to the Daily Planet
Tuesday May 28, 2002

There is no Memorial Day parade through downtown Berkeley, but one local resident made sure people remembered there was a holiday to commemorate. 

Travis Ratliff, a UC Berkeley Student, did some errands around Shattuck and University Avenues Monday morning. His “Proud To Be American” hat and “We The People” shirt were regular attire, he insisted, but the 3’x5’ American flag he carried on a pole was for special occasions. 

“I believe in America,” said Ratliff, who has carried the flag through other cities on national holidays, but never before in Berkeley. 

“It’s been really great just walking around with the flag. I just passed a couple of homeless guys who started singing the national anthem when they saw me,” exclaimed Ratliff, who said that carrying the flag meant more to him since September 11. 

But Elsewhere in the city, Berkeleyans seemed more inclined to enjoy a day with friends and family, than flaunt their patriotism. 

“It’s nice to have a day off from school,” said Colin Epstein, a Berkeley High School Student. His sentiment was echoed by other students playing a baseball game in West Berkeley. 

At Ohlone Park, Pedro and Marrell Alvarez celebrated a rare day together with their toddler.  


“We are immigrants, and we don’t really celebrate this day at all except that it is a good opportunity to enjoy being together,” said Marrell, whose husband is a hotel worker, and often works on major holidays. 

Berkeleyans may not have been giving the usual answers about Memorial Day, but many enjoyed the traditional holiday activity. 

Barbecue grills at the Berkeley Marina and Aquatic Park were filled by late morning, forcing Jacy Lockhart and his friends to scramble to find an available spot. 

“We spent an hour and a half going from one park to another,” said Lockhart who finally found space at James Kenny Park. His barbecue was still being delayed, however, while he tried to contact four friends who had walked to the Marina to meet him.  

“Somewhere there are four guys wandering aimlessly looking for an open grill,” joked Lockhart. 

At Aquatic Park, several people enjoyed a pick-up game of frisbee golf, in which players try to throw the disc into a garbage bucket. Most of the players didn’t seem interested in the holiday.  

“I hope somebody cares, because I don’t, Nathan Smith said. 

One of his fellow players did care. Bob Mann served in the Marine Corps for three years in the 1980’s. “Today brings back a lot of memories,” said Mann who as a member of the Marine Corps honor guard, participated in memorial services for the corpses of 200 marines who had just been flown back after the soldiers were killed at their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.  

Despite Mann’s experience, he was not bothered by the Smith’s statement. “That’s why we were doing it, so you have the right to do what you want. Isn’t that the point,” Mann said.