The Sacramento Bee is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year. This story is part of our ongoing coverage.
July 2, 2005: Making Iraq a better place was a top priority for Sgt. Arnold Duplantier II of the California Army National Guard. He lamented that he couldn’t finish the job.
The 26-year-old soldier was killed June 22 by a sniper while on patrol with his unit in Baghdad.
On Friday, Duplantier was laid to rest with full military honors at Mount Vernon Memorial Park in Fair Oaks. He was the 12th California National Guard soldier to die in Iraq and the first from Sacramento.
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“He was always smiling, always helping out, always concerned about his fellow soldiers,” Sgt. 1st Class John Larson told more than 250 mourners.
After suffering his wound, Duplantier apologized to his comrades, said Larson, who was Duplantier’s platoon leader at the Auburn armory where his company is based.
“(In) a reflection of who he was, he looked up at them and said, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” Larson said. “I later thought to myself, ‘What kind of man says he’s sorry when God comes down and takes him from us?’ ”
Brig. Gen. John R. Alexander, commander of the California National Guard, said the entire force mourned Duplantier’s death.
More than 12,000 members of the California National Guard have been called to active duty since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said.
“But now, we’re starting to slowly bring people home,” he added. “I hope that's some comfort to you.”
Shadowed by the flags of the nation’s armed forces, the memorial service was held in the cemetery’s military Court of Honor. Duplantier’s flag-draped coffin was later transferred to another section for burial. A 21-gun salute preceded the playing of “Taps.”
A Sacramento native, Duplantier attended McClatchy High School. He joined the California National Guard in April 1999 and was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry unit. He went on active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in August.
Freedom reigns at Sacramento’s bicentennial celebrations
July 5, 1976: Sacramentans celebrated the 200th birthday of the republic in a way that would make Jefferson and Hancock and Hamilton and Henry have a proud sigh in their lace-edged waistcoats and say: “We told you so.”
They celebrated by not agreeing.
They celebrated by being shamelessly patriotic, crying tears of joy as a 50-gun salute burst through the hot morning sky.
What Sacramentans did yesterday was acknowledge freedom. They basked in it, yearned for it, looked back on it and looked ahead to it.
From Discovery Park to the quiet halls of a nursing home, from the floor of the governor’s office at the Capitol to the benches at the bocce ball courts in East Sacramento.
The day began at 11 a.m. with a fitting American symphony, the ringing of church bells and the thundering blasts of six howitzers, booming 50 straight times to salute each and every state.
Then a young man stepped to the microphone at Discovery Park to deliver a keynote address to the citizens of the town John Sutter settled 63 years after the union was formed.
Standing at the banks of the American River, David Butler told the crowd he was puzzled that a young man of 20 should be asked to kick off the city’s bicentennial party.
“But then I realized,” said Butler, a prize-winning Boy Scout orator, “that the next 100 years belong to my generation and those after. We should look not so much at the past today, but at the future and what we’re going to do with it.”