It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

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The iconic "Loose Lips Sink Ships" poster of World War II fame (Public domain_)

They used to say, "Loose lips sink ships," and Elizabeth "Betty" Petrie still lives by those words.

A lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy women's auxiliary, Petrie worked in highly classified military communications during World War II, and Tuesday on the occasion of her 104th birthday, she still wouldn't breathe a word about the details of her work.

"I can't tell you anything," Petrie said, raising her hands, smiling.

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