U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Frederick Lopez was the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day event at San Marcos High School on Tuesday. Lopez played football for Lompoc High and attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo before serving in Vietnam. At the high school gathering, Lopez drew attention to the 38 names etched in the high school’s Vietnam Memorial Plaza in Warkentin Stadium — names of former students of San Marcos, Santa Barbara, and Bishop Diego high schools and Santa Barbara City College who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
“Why should you care?” he asked the students. Lopez described that point in history as a time when students got high on marijuana and rock-and-roll music was on the rise. “It was a transformative time,” he said, and the war was labeled as “unworthy.” He talked about draft-dodgers and referenced President Trump among those who avoided service. Lopez encouraged students to visit the memorial and read and remember the names on the wall. “To die in war is not the worst thing that can happen,” he said, “To be forgotten is the worst thing that can happen.”