The foothills host several Memorial Day ceremonies to remember those who died in service to their country.
By Mary O’KEEFE
Members of the community are invited to two local Memorial Day observances on Monday at 8 a.m., one at Two Strike Park at 5107 Rosemont Ave. in La Crescenta and the other at the Vietnam War Memorial at Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard in Montrose.
American Legion Post 288 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 sponsor the Two Strike event. This year’s keynote speaker is Lt. Col. David Worley. This observance has traditionally been hosted in front of the small memorial wall, but Monday’s event will be a different because the small memorial has been dismantled to make room for a new, larger wall. Funds were raised from throughout the area and, with the help and support from Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, the Dept. of Public Works, veterans’ groups and Supervisor Michael Antonovich, next year’s observance will take place in front of a new wall that will have room to contain the names of those from Crescenta Valley who died in service to their country.
There is not an exact date as to the first Decoration Day, but it can be traced to just after the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed in 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Since its beginning, Memorial Day has been a time set aside to honor military personnel who died while in service. It is also a day to help those who have lost loved ones and to show support to those who have served and are serving their country.
“That means the world to us,” said Andrew Burghdorf of events and programs that honor those who serve in the military.
Burghdorf was stationed in Iraq in 2007 with the U.S. Air Force and is now in the Reserves. When in Iraq, he was in counter terrorism with a joint task force with the U.S. Army and was sent to Northern Iraq.
“At the time, [the military] had just had a big push in Baghdad,” he said.
Most of the terrorists fled to Northern Iraq. The residents who lived in the area at that time were not exactly welcoming to foreign troops.
“There was a lot of animosity toward U.S. troops,” Burghdorf said. “It was a real tense time; the insurgency had a very strong presence.”
During this time he would see news reports from the states.
“To be honest, it was a little discouraging,” he said.
The news reports spoke of Americans’ number one concern being the economy and financial stability while those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan seemed to be lower on the list of priorities.
Burghdorf saw this type of report just after there was a major insurgence when soldiers had lost their lives. It was during these times that community events honoring those in service meant the most.
“We live in an awesome community,” he said.
When Burghdorf was in Iraq, the Crescenta Valley Town Council started a banner program on which names of those serving in the military were placed on banners that were hung along Foothill Boulevard.
“It was a gesture [showing] they went out of their way to recognize those [who served],” he said.
Memorial Day is an emotional day not only for those who lost their loved ones but also for those who served alongside men and women that were lost.
“Memorial Day means a lot to me because I lost friends, guys I worked with,” Burghdorf said. “It is a reminder to recognize those that we have lost.”
Burghdorf met his wife Jennifer while in the Air Force Academy. She is an Air Force civil engineer. Jennifer served in Afghanistan, also with a joint task force.
“We (Burghdorf and his wife) love serving our country,” he said. Both now serve in the reserves out of March Air Force Base.
Steve Thibault, U.S. Marine, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. When he first arrived, the residents were a little “stand- offish.”
“They were curious and maybe a [little] scared,” he said. Eventually, he added, they were glad the troops were there.
Thibault was in an area that U.S. troops had not been in before; they were taking over where a British platoon had been.
“The (British) troops were spread so thin,” he said.
Originally from New York, Thibault said he had not seen photos of events like Memorial Day, though he did receive care packages from kids which showed support for the troops.
“It was nice, comforting,” he said.
Thibault added that the Memorial Day observances do mean something to those who have returned from service, many who lost comrades that they fought alongside.
“I think it shows the community supports [the veterans and active military] and it makes it easier,” he said.
The Memorial Day observances honor those who passed, but also reaches beyond to honor those who served alongside the fallen.
“I can appreciate and think back on the friends and all of the sacrifices and all the troops that have served over the years,” Burghdorf said.
Memorial Day Observances
Vietnam War Memorial. The ceremony will begin at
8 a.m. on Monday. The Vietnam War Memorial is located at the northwest corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard.
Two Strike Park. Observance will be held at 8 a.m. on Monday at Two Strike Park, 5107 Rosemont Ave. in La Crescenta. Keynote speaker is Lt. Col. David Worley USAF. The ceremony will include presentation of colors, presentation of wreaths and flowers, reading of fallen heroes, POW/MIA ceremony and Walk of Honor.
The event is sponsored by the American Legion Post 288 and VFW Post 1614.
La Cañada Flintridge
Memorial Park. Service will be held at 9 a.m. at Memorial Park, 1327 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada followed by the Fiesta Days Parade at 10:30 a.m.
City Hall. The Patriotism Committee of the Glendale Veterans Coalition will host a Memorial Day ceremony at Glendale City Hall, 613 E. Broadway beginning at 9:30 a.m. The coalition will distribute information about services for U.S. veterans and their families.
Glendale-Eagle Rock Aerie. Glendale-Eagle Rock Fraternal Order of Eagles 2188 sponsors a Memorial Day weekend to benefit disabled veterans and welcome home all Vietnam veterans May 25 to May 27 at the Glendale-Eagle Rock Aerie, 1596 Yosemite Dr., Eagle Rock.
The first event begins on Saturday at 3 p.m. with the opening of a Vietnam War photo gallery. Dinner will follow from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Entertainment after dinner. The event is open to the public for a $20 donation that includes admission to the gallery, dinner, entertainment and admission to the Aerie on Sunday.
Doors open Sunday at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for an open house event.
On Monday, the Eagles will host a champagne breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $7. A Memorial Day ceremony will follow at noon. The photo gallery will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, contact Glendale-Eagle Rock Eagles at (323) 257-8869.
Forest Lawn Glendale
A Memorial Day ceremony with patriotic music, wreath laying, free refreshments, free souvenirs and much more. The event will be located in the “old section” of Forest Lawn. There is an information booth at the location that can help visitors with any questions.
The event begins Monday at 1 p.m. Glendale Forest Lawn is located at 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale.
Wall of Honor at Scholl Canyon
Scholl Canyon Estates, an independent living community for seniors in Glendale, will mark Memorial Day on May 27 by establishing of a Wall of Honor to salute its veteran residents.
The unveiling of the wall, which includes ‘Then and Now’ photos of Scholl Canyon residents who served their country, will take place at 12:30 p.m. at 1551 E. Chevy Chase Dr., Glendale.
For more information, call (818) 951-3830.