Locals turn out to remember those who died in service to their country.
By Jason KUROSU, Mary O’KEEFE and Sammi SLAYBACK
“They fell like brave men, true as steel. And pour’d their blood like rain. We feel we owe them all we have. And can but kneel and weep again.”
These lyrics, written by Mrs. L. Nella Sweet, are part of the song, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping,” published in 1867 and dedicated “To The Ladies of the South who are decorating the Graves of the Confederation.”
General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Memorial Day, long known as Decoration Day, in 1868. The foothills continued the tradition of honoring those who died in military service of the United States at several venues including ceremonies of Two Strike Park, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Montrose and at Memorial Park in La Cañada.
Congressman Adam Schiff and Assemblymember Anthony Portantino joined veterans at the Two Strike Park service early Monday morning. The Crescenta Valley High School JROTC presented the Colors, then turned to the round table that sat near the Two Strike Park memorial. The table honored MIA/POW (Missing in Action/Prisoner of War). As the JROTC cadets stood at attention, Lt. Col. David Worley, the program’s mentor, explained the symbol of each item on the table.
(To learn more about the POW/MIA ceremony visit www.cvweekly.com)
The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored the memorial service. Congressman Schiff paid tribute to those who served and shared how he had toured the medical facilities during his travels to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He spoke of seeing two soldiers, both who had been in an SUV when it was attacked. One walked away, one soldier had shrapnel on one side of his body, and another had shrapnel on the other side.
“And one in [that was in the vehicle] died on the operating table,” he said.
Schiff said during war it is sometimes about chance: what motorcade you are in or where you are sitting.
He honored those who made the supreme sacrifice.
During the ceremony, Warren Spayth, commander of the VFW, gave an update on fundraising for the new Two Strike Park Memorial Wall. At this point the committee has raised about $35,000 of the $75,000 needed.
For more information concerning the memorial visit the website www.twostrikememorial.org.
In Montrose, the annual Memorial Day ceremony drew a large crowd at the Vietnam War memorial, filling the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue up and down the block and accumulating a sizable audience of Coffee Bean patrons from across the street. The crowd, which was made up of families, veterans, Boy Scouts, members of the Glendale City Council, police and many others who saluted, held their hands over their hearts or shielded their eyes as the American flag was raised up into the morning sun amid a bagpiper’s rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
As per tradition, the names of the departed soldiers on the memorial, built in 1968, were read off by United States Navy Lieutenant Steve Pierce. Each name coincided with a ringing of a bell by U.S. Air Force Sergeant Mike Morgan.
Several speakers imparted their feelings about the importance of remembering fallen veterans and supporting the veterans of today.
“We must never take for granted the freedoms our soldiers fought so hard to uphold and the sacrifices they made,” said California State Senator Carol Liu. “These tributes and ceremonies are symbols of our community’s gratitude.”
L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich spoke about the kinds of services that should be expected for returning veterans.
“We should rededicate ourselves to helping those veterans who have been injured and need care and treatment. We should make sure they have it without having to wait in line. It should not be a process like the post office. It should be like calling 911, where needs are met immediately.”
Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero also intimated interest in helping veterans, with the proposal of a new housing project.
“I’m very happy and proud to announce that the city of Glendale has approved a 44-unit affordable veterans’ housing project. It would be one of the first in the country.”
Quintero said the project would be on Salem Street, half a block from Central Avenue. Quintero also spoke about a social service run by New Directions, a nonprofit organization supporting veterans, which helps ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life.
In La Cañada at Memorial Park, a memorial service, coordinated by Dr. Joe Puglia was held at 9 a.m. Bagpipes were played, local elected officials were introduced, and veterans were honored.
“Many people forget what this weekend is really about,” said Pat Anderson, CEO and president of the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not about a party, it’s not about a parade, it’s about honoring the veterans, and as far as I’m concerned, we can’t do that enough.”