In Rancho Palos Verdes there was a special tribute on Memorial Day, to honor a military group considered by many to be the one of the most elite units in the country. Veterans expressed their gratitude for the men and women who died serving their country. Hetty Chang reports from Rancho Palos Verdes for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on May 27, 2013.
Thousands paid their respects to American servicemen and women at the 28th annual Memorial Day Observance at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes on Monday.
The service was dedicated this year to the Navy SEALS, a special operations unit which keynote speaker Lt. Mike Thornton retired from more than 20 years ago. Thornton, like many of the veterans here, is humble about his service to our country.
He would never admit he deserves the congressional Medal of Honor he wears around his neck, nor does he talk much about his role in the Seal Team 6, the team that took down Osama Bin Laden.
"I came in the mid 60's and I was one of the original guys who helped start seal team 6 in the 1980s," said Thornton. "All the things we did back then, no one knew about it."
Despite all they have done for our country, each veteran who talked with NBC4 exuded a humbleness about their service. Angel Banuelos, 90, who served in World War II said he feels gratitude, especially for the younger men and women who died serving our country.
"I walked among the crosses, and it hit me," said Banuelos. "Why am I here and not there? I felt guilty, I felt guilt."
More than 9,000 flags were placed at grave sites of veterans who died serving our country. Among the highlights from Monday's ceremony were the release of 100 doves, aerial fly-overs and a presentation of memorial wreaths with a rifle salute.