Jack F.K. Bungart: Vallejo truly gets Memorial Day

Vallejo Times Herald
05/22/15, 3:13 P.M.

You have arrived at the right place.

Yes, the legendary Mare Island Naval Shipyard closed down decades ago. Meanwhile, what the military means — service, sacrifice, duty, honor, respect — never went out of style in these parts. 

It’s a reason this son of a Marine — and I really don’t care how hokey and hackneyed this sounds — is glad he’s spending this Memorial Day Weekend, and the days that led up to it, as the editor in chief of this maritime city’s newspaper.

Last year at this time, I was busy cooling my heels, having been hired to come back to the news room, this time to the editor’s office — on the day after Memorial Day.

This past week, I’ve been privileged to be right here in this office, as our staff planned to cover and make note of this singular American holiday as best we can. True to form, Vallejo — from the letters to the editor chastising the commercial intrusion of Memorial Day to the community leaders marking the occasion — has come through with its usual array of dignified events to honor the holiday and the profound significance it carries. 

There was Friday at the Mare Island Hospital, where, with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson on hand, Touro University California officials raised the first American flag to be flown on Mare Island since the 9/11 attacks.

And there is, of course, Monday. Among other festivities, there is the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation’s 9 a.m. ceremony at the Mare Island Cemetery. It should be both somber and inspiring.

Vallejo knows no other way — but the right way — to do Memorial Day.

• It hardly feels like it, but the calendar insists it has indeed been one year since I returned to the Times-Herald, so I’ll go with that. The gig has been all I suspected and hoped it would be, and more — as rewarding as it is challenging, as satisfying as it is exhausting. 

We’re still attempting to do more with less here, but we’re also still refusing to use any of the inherent challenges of this new era of community journalism as an excuse. We plan to continue to fight for each and every reader on each of our platforms — print and Internet — as we continue to shine a light on the countless good fights being waged in this community, as well as the all too obvious bad that takes place in a city that deserves better.

There’s so much more yet to be written in Vallejo’s story — in Vallejo’s comeback story, for that matter. Getting new and better businesses here, an election that should be nothing short of fascinating, crime, school safety, medical marijuana, and more.

The thrilling part of this job is we don’t know what another year will look like. We just know this staff will continue to harder than you know, and that we want to hear from you — good and bad, the stories you want more of, or the ones we missed.

In the meantime, ahh, one year ago. It was a different time, those halcyon days of yore, when school board elections weren’t more complicated than calculus class, I still had David Letterman’s “Late Show” and Don Draper on “Mad Men” (somebody get Jon Hamm an Emmy, please) to unwind to, and pool tables were, well, pool tables.