Memorial Day

Memorial Day Observed Throughout LA County

Memorial Day observances in Los Angeles County included what organizers called the largest Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade and a tribute in Whittier to a Navy journalist killed in the Vietnam War who was buried this year.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at Sherman Way and Owensmouth Avenue and headed east on Sherman Way to Cozycroft Avenue. An opening ceremony at 10 a.m. preceded the 30th edition of the parade, whose theme is "Saluting the price of freedom." 

Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier began its 99th annual Memorial Day Observance at 11 a.m.

Ruben Valencia, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, told the story of his best friend Raul Guerra, a Navy journalist from Montebello who was killed in a plane crash in Vietnam in 1967.

A ground recovery could not be conducted because of the location of the crash and very steep terrain.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and the Joint Casualty Resolution Center interviewed numerous Vietnamese individuals over the years regarding the crash. Between 1993 and 2003, JTF-FA and JPAC teams investigated the incident on 13 joint field activities, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The JPAC Central Identification Laboratory received possible human remains from the crash site in 2005. Four service members killed in the crash were identified in 2007, but relevant family reference samples for Guerra could not be obtained so a DNA match could be made.

To identify Guerra's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and isotopic analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. The remains were identified in February. Guerra is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park. 

The observance also included a performance by the California High School Band, presentation of colors by the California State Military Reserve Color Guard, a vintage airplane flyover, military vehicle display, remembrance trees and a display of essays by high school students.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, spoke at a ceremony at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood beginning at 10 a.m.

The names of the nearly 7,000 members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service since the 9/11 attacks were read at the Honoring Our Fallen Memorial Wall remembrance gathering at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach.

What was billed as the South Bay's largest annual Memorial Day observance began at 10 a.m. at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.

The 34th annual observance included flyovers by a U.S. Air Force C- 17 military transport aircraft, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Aero Bureau helicopters and vintage SNJ-5 and CJ-6A trainer aircraft; a performance by the 21st Century skydiving team; a parade of colors presented by members of the armed forces, veterans groups, police officers, firefighters, K-9 teams and Junior ROTC units; a display of a World War II ambulance and a Vietnam War-era military jeep; performances by singer Laura Savitz, the Palos Verdes Symphonic Band and the Cabar Feidh Bagpipe Band; wreath-laying with a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps"; and the release of 100 doves.

The keynote speaker was retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Scott A. Huesing, who served 10 deployments and conducted operations in more than 60 nations.

The 104th annual Forest Lawn Memorial Day event at Forest Lawn- Hollywood Hills began at 10 a.m. and included a keynote address by Tess Banko, the Marine Corps veteran who is the executive director of UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center.

Music was provided by the Los Angeles Police Department Band.

There was also a display of military memorabilia.

Memorial Day remembrances were also observed for the Forest Lawn memorial parks in the Covina Hills, Glendale and Long Beach.

The 72nd annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Mexican-American All Wars Monument at Cinco Puntos in Boyle Heights began at 10 a.m. and included a flyover by Los Angeles Police Department Air Support Division helicopters.

The ceremony was preceded by a 24-hour vigil where veterans and supporters stand guard at the monument. At least one person stands guard throughout the vigil.

Inglewood's 71st annual Memorial Day Service began at 11 a.m. in front of the Memorial Obelisk Monument at Inglewood City Hall. The keynote address was given by Dennis Morgan, Metro's veteran program manager/talent acquisition after serving in the U.S. Army for 22 years.

Pico Rivera unveiled its upgraded Veterans Memorial Plaza, which included additional visitor-friendly amenities. The City Council recently established a veterans plaque program allowing the names of service members to be memorialized at the site.

Burbank's annual Memorial Day Ceremony featured a flyover by the Condor Squadron's World War II fighter planes above the Eternal Flame at McCambridge Park. World War II veteran Jimmy Weldon performed "Old Glory," accompanied by the Burbank Community Band.

Boy Scouts and family and friends laid roses in remembrance of those whose names are on the memorials while their names are read.

The ceremony revealed the renovation the Burbank Veterans Committee has scheduled "in order to keep the memorial in proper order of respect to those to whom we pay homage,'' according to committee Chairman Mickey DePalo, a Vietnam War veteran.

El Monte's Memorial Day Ceremony began at 9 a.m. at Grace T. Black Auditorium. Montebello's Memorial Day Ceremony began at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Monument at Montebello City Park.

In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Donald Trump proclaimed Monday as a day of prayer for permanent peace, designating 11 a.m. in each time zone as a time during which people may unite in prayer, citing a 1950 joint resolution by Congress.

Trump also asked all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m. in each time zone under a bill signed into law in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton.

The Moment of Remembrance is a "way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day," its founder Carmella LaSpada said.

Trump's proclamation also requested governors of all U.S. states and territories and the appropriate officials of all units of government to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout nation and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control.

Trump also requested the American public to display the flag at half-staff from their homes until noon Monday.

"As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we proudly commemorate those heroic and honorable patriots who gave their all for the cause of freedom during some of history's darkest hours,'' Trump declared in his proclamation.

"Thousands of selfless members of our armed forces perished on the beaches of Normandy. They bravely gave their lives to pave the way for the Allied liberation of Europe and ultimately victory over the forces of evil.

"Their historic sacrifices and achievements secured the future of humanity and proved America's strength in defending freedom and defeating the enemies of civilization." 

What became Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers.

It was established 25 days earlier by Maj. Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of veterans who fought for the Union in the Civil War. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the nation.

By the end of the 19th century, Decoration Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. After World War I, the holiday was changed to honor Americans who died fighting in all wars.

The term Memorial Day was first used in 1882, became more common after World War II and declared the official name by federal law in 1967.

Memorial Day had been observed on May 30, until being moved to the last Monday in May in 1971 under terms of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which became law in 1968.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us