By Mary O’KEEFE
On Monday Crescenta Valley High School’s JROTC sponsored a flag retirement ceremony on the school’s baseball field.
“The American flag … stands for the land, the people, the government and the ideals of the citizens of the United States of America,” said Lt. Col. Dave Worley, JROTC instructor.
A flag retirement allows people to get rid of their tattered and worn flags in a dignified manner.
Veterans joined JROTC for the ceremony. Flags had been collected from families throughout the community. The veterans had examined each one to see if they were worn and in need of destroying. A controlled fire was then started near home plate and the flags were laid across the flames.
This is just one of many ceremonies JROTC and local veterans conduct throughout the year in the community.
Veterans from the American Legion Post 288 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 will be honoring those who have given their lives for their country on Memorial Day at Two Strike Park.
Each year the two organizations ban together to honor military brothers and sisters who have fallen in battle. They do this by reading aloud a list of “Fallen Heroes” from the Crescenta Valley area and create a Walk of Honor along the sidewalk at the park.
“The Walk of Honor is for anyone who knows a [military person] who was killed during a time of conflict,” said Warren Spayth, VFW 1614 Post Commander. “Anyone can submit a name.”
A flyer/poster is then created with the person’s name, arm of service, ranking and date of death. Those posters are then placed on a post set into the ground along the walkway.
Organizers need the names of those fallen heroes as soon as possible so they can get the posters prepared.
Memorial Day is on May 30. Anyone with a name they would like to add to the Walk of Honor can do so by going to www.twostrikememorail.org or by contacting Mike Baldwin, American Legion at firstname.lastname@example.org or Warren Spayth at WSpayth@aol.com or contacting the American Legion at (818) 541-1336.
The VFW and American Legion veterans are also working on another memorial. One that is more permanent. The veterans are now raising funds for the Two Strike Park War Memorial.
“We started this three years ago, then the economy got really bad and we were getting a soft response,” Spayth said.
The economy had not improved the following year and unfortunately the VFW was dealing with the loss of the building that had housed their post. They had to put their effort into relocating but now the time seemed to be right.
A memorial already exists however without names. The veterans want to expand the memorial and add names of those Crescenta Valley residents who died while serving in the military from World War I to present time.
“It started with [Nick] Steinbacher,” said Baldwin.
On Dec. 10, 2006 Nick Steinbacher was serving in Iraq when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by a road side bomb killing him. He was 22.
Baldwin said the Steinbacher family wanted to add their son’s name to the memorial on Honolulu Avenue however that is for fallen soldiers that served in Vietnam.
“We just thought we should rededicate this memorial and not [have it] for one [conflict],” he said.
They have a plan drawn and are now looking for donations. Spayth said when they had planned the memorial three years ago the costs was about $60,000.
He hopes to cut that costs with donations of materials from some construction companies or businesses that would like to donate time and materials.
He understands that the economy is still not strong but hopes that the community and beyond will help complete the memorial. A memorial that will honor all that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.