Thursday, June 20, 2024

Memorial Day celebrations fill LA County with tributes to fallen service men and women

Must read

With communities crafting ceremonies large and small, Memorial Day in Los Angeles County featured an old-school neighborhood parade through the streets of Canoga Park, the reading aloud of hundreds of service men and women who died serving the nation at scattered ceremonies and hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors marching down L.A.’s new but already iconic Sixth Street Viaduct.

The San Fernando Valley’s traditional Memorial Day parade honored Canoga Park High School graduates who gave their lives in military service since World War II. The opening ceremony included a wreath laying at the Wall of Honor and presentations by local, state and federal elected officials.

  • The Condor Squadron does a flyby to start the the...

    The Condor Squadron does a flyby to start the the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27. 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • SFV Chapter Model A Ford club show off the colors...

    SFV Chapter Model A Ford club show off the colors at the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • U.S. Navel cates color guard at the 32nd annual Canoga...

    U.S. Navel cates color guard at the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • The Condor Squadron does a flyby to start the the...

    The Condor Squadron does a flyby to start the the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27. 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • American Legion Post 826 of Woodland Hills shows the colors...

    American Legion Post 826 of Woodland Hills shows the colors at the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • Mexican rope dancer perform at the 32nd annual Canoga Park...

    Mexican rope dancer perform at the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • People get photo during the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial...

    People get photo during the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • People display the American colors during the 32nd annual Canoga...

    People display the American colors during the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024.Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • Angel Cabral from Taft High School band plays “TAPS” during...

    Angel Cabral from Taft High School band plays “TAPS” during the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27. 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

  • SFV Chapter Model A Ford club show off the colors...

    SFV Chapter Model A Ford club show off the colors at the 32nd annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, on May 27, 2024. Honoring those who died during military service. (Photo by Gene BlevinsContributing Photographer)

The parade began at the intersection of Sherman Way and Owensmouth Avenue and proceeded east to Cozycroft Avenue, with more than 75 entries, including veterans’ organizations, equestrian teams, military units and high school bands, according to organizers, who reported that 30,000 to 35,000 people lined the parade route.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected to participate in the Annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Peter Gravett, the parade’s grand marshal, “and I commend the organizers and community for continuing this tradition. What better way to honor our brave military who fell in war to secure our freedoms, beginning with the Civil War to recent conflicts.”

Meanwhile, in Downtown L.A., more than 500 U.S. Navy sailors in gleaming white uniforms marched across the Sixth Street Viaduct.

  • Sailors pay tribute to fallen service members during a Memorial...

    Sailors pay tribute to fallen service members during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2024, on the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles . (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sailors stand in formation on the Sixth Street Bridge in...

    Sailors stand in formation on the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, May 27, 2024, during a Memorial Day tribute to fallen service members. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Deputy Commander of the U.S. Navy, Third Fleet Rear Admiral...

    Deputy Commander of the U.S. Navy, Third Fleet Rear Admiral Richard Meyer, delivers remarks as L.A. Councilmember Kevin de Leon looks on during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2024, on the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles . (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Service members recite the Sailor’s Creed during a Memorial Day...

    Service members recite the Sailor’s Creed during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2024, on the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles . (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Hundreds of sailors line up to march across the Sixth...

    Hundreds of sailors line up to march across the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, May 27, 2024, in a Memorial Day tribute to those service members who have died fighting for their country. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Hundreds of sailors line up to march across the Sixth...

    Hundreds of sailors line up to march across the Sixth Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, May 27, 2024, in a Memorial Day tribute to those service members who have died fighting for their country. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

The walk to pay tribute to fallen U.S. military personnel started at noon on the Boyle Heights side of the viaduct, with sailors forming 10 rows abreast and 50 deep, according to Branimir Kvartuc, the media representative for LA Fleet Week. Members of the public are welcome to follow.

The walk was  held in conjunction with LA Fleet Week, the annual, multi-day celebration of the nation’s sea services. The annual celebration of all things nautical packed the San Pedro area with visitors.

The Memorial Day Observance at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes included skydivers, a procession of colors, a mounted posse, civilian and military flyovers and a performance by Navy Band Southwest.

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. The Cabar Feidh Pipe Band performs. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. Keynote Speaker Major General, U.S. Army (Retired) Mark A. Graham addresses the crowd. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

  • Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on...

    Green Hills Memorial Park held its Memorial Day Service on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Monday May 27, 2024. The event closes out Fleet Week and included flyovers, mounted posse and speakers. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

The keynote speaker was retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, who served in several key command and staff positions in the United States, Germany and South Korea.

In his 2012 retirement ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which also honored his wife Carol, Graham noted their sons Jeff and Kevin “died fighting different battles.”

Kevin Graham died by suicide in 2003 while a senior ROTC cadet studying to become an Army doctor. Nine months later, 2nd Lt. Jeff Graham was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Since then, the Grahams have dedicated themselves to helping people in the military and the civilian world learn about and prevent suicide.

Residents, veterans and city dignitaries gathered at the Veteran’s Memorial in Redondo Beach’s Veteran’s Park. This year, the ceremony — put on annually by the city, the Veterans Memorial Task Force and Redondo Beach Elks Lodge #1378 — included a flag presentation to family members of late Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, who died in February.

Every Memorial Day and Labor Day, the flag that flies at Veteran’s Park is replaced with a new one, said Tom Lasser, of the Veteran’s Memorial Task Force. The old flag is usually presented to a local veteran, he said.

  • Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) speaks during the annual Memorial Day...

    Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) speaks during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • US Space Force Colonel Mia Walsh places down a wreath,...

    US Space Force Colonel Mia Walsh places down a wreath, along with several other veterans, during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • US Army veterans stand up as their branch’s theme in...

    US Army veterans stand up as their branch’s theme in the “Armed Forces Medley” is played by the Redondo Union High School Wind Ensemble at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • Redondo Beach resident Dennis McNeil sings “God Bless America” during...

    Redondo Beach resident Dennis McNeil sings “God Bless America” during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.) speaks during the annual Memorial Day...

    Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.) speaks during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • US Coast Guard Captain Stacy Crecy gives a speech during...

    US Coast Guard Captain Stacy Crecy gives a speech during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • Family members of the late Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand...

    Family members of the late Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand receive an American flag during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • South Bay Coastal Sea Cadet Christina Ree plays “Assembly,” a...

    South Bay Coastal Sea Cadet Christina Ree plays “Assembly,” a bugle call, during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

  • US Naval Sea Cadets fold the American flag during the...

    US Naval Sea Cadets fold the American flag during the retiring of the colors at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

But this year, because of the late mayor’s support for the military, veterans and the Veteran’s Park Memorial itself, the task force decided to present the flag to Brand’s family. Sister Sallie Citron accepted the flag on behalf of the family.

“How special is it that we’re presenting the flag right by his final resting place?” Lasser said in a phone interview before Monday’s ceremony. Brand’s ashes were lowered into the ocean in a paddleout ceremony right below Veteran’s Park earlier this month.

For more than 20 years, the city of Torrance has honored those residents who have given their lives in military service for their country with the Veterans Memorial Wall. The 151 names enshrined in the monument are located at the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Maple Avenue, adjacent to Torrance City Hall.

Five new names of men who lost their lives during World War II that were added to the wall last year were highlighted at the Torrance Historical Society’s Names on the Wall Remembrance  on Monday.

About half of the names on the monument are World War II veterans, Torrance Historical Society volunteer Dennis Piotrowski said, along with one from World War I. The other half are honored for their service in Korea, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Piotrowski, along with Torrance Historical Society board member Kurt Weideman and other volunteers, continued researching who they can add to the “Names on the Wall Project,” an effort to share the stories of Torrance residents who have died during their military service.

The project, for which the memorial wall was built in 2003, was initiated by Jerry Ronan, a past Torrance Historical Society Board Member, Torrance teacher and late World War II veteran who died in 2021, along with many other volunteers. Piotrowski and Weidman found Monday’s new honorees in the past two years.

As for the five latest veterans on the list, Piotrowski, who is a librarian in the Palos Verdes Library District, said he and Weideman  uncovered the stories of the handful of Torrance men killed in action from a 1946 article in the Torrance Herald. The Herald was published from 1914 to 1969, according to the city’s website.

  • Bagpiper Logan Gersuch performs during the annual Reading of the...

    Bagpiper Logan Gersuch performs during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Michelle Polcari, president of the Torrance Historical Society, gives introductory...

    Michelle Polcari, president of the Torrance Historical Society, gives introductory remarks during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Five veterans who died during World War II are honored...

    Five veterans who died during World War II are honored at the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Army veteran Bob Chiota performs the ceremonial recitation during the...

    Army veteran Bob Chiota performs the ceremonial recitation during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Army veteran Charlie Saulenas attends the ceremonial recitation during the...

    Army veteran Charlie Saulenas attends the ceremonial recitation during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Gene Hassan performs the ceremonial recitation during the annual Reading...

    Gene Hassan performs the ceremonial recitation during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Army veteran Bob Chiota performs the ceremonial recitation during the...

    Army veteran Bob Chiota performs the ceremonial recitation during the annual Reading of the Names on the Torrance Veterans Memorial Wall on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) speaks during the annual Memorial Day...

    Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) speaks during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Redondo Beach on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Raphael Richardson, Contributing Photographer)

Here are the Torrance World War II Veterans who were officially recognized on the memorial wall Monday:

–Thomas Beecham, a resident of  Torrance’s Walteria neighborhood, who was on board the submarine USS Argonaut when it was attacked and sunk, all hands lost, on January 10, 1943.

–James D. Sanders, also from Walteria, enlisted and died at 17 years old when the escort aircraft carrier USS Liscome Bay was torpedoed and sunk in November 1943.

–Russell Browning, a Merchant Mariner who was aboard the SS Azalea City when it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U Boat in February 1942.

–Kristi Palica, a local baseball player and Army infantryman who was killed on Luzon Island in the Philippines by an artillery blast injury in May 1945.

–John Wolverton, a Naval aviator whose plane went missing on May 15, 1943 while on a routine search mission from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

The Honoring Our Fallen Memorial Day Reading of Names of the 7,057 Americans who have died in combat and training exercises since the 9/11 attacks as reported by U.S. Central Command began at 5:30 a.m. at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach with a bagpiper tribute.

Members of Gold Star families, local active-duty military, law enforcement, first responders and veterans will assist in reading the names of the fallen in order of death as inscribed on the park’s memorial wall.

The reading was expected to be completed at approximately 1 p.m., according to Laura Herzog, the founder and CEO of Honoring Our Fallen, which organizes the event. The nonprofit organization provides support for families of service personnel killed in the line of duty during the transfer of remains.

In addition, new nameplates were unveiled to honor those who gave their lives in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War, along with law enforcement officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty, Herzog said.

More names were read aloud — 320 of them — in Pasadena. The names belonged tp service members from from the City of Roses who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts were honored at Memorial Park.

  • Irene Ramirez grasps a folded American flag that was presented...

    Irene Ramirez grasps a folded American flag that was presented to her for her son, Lance Cpl. Rogelio A. Ramirez, who was killed in Iraq in 2007, during a ceremony honoring 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Condor Squadron performs a flyover during a ceremony honoring...

    The Condor Squadron performs a flyover during a ceremony honoring 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Pasadena Councilmember, Jess Rivas, and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Alla Krishtall, 48, takes a photo with her phone of...

    Alla Krishtall, 48, takes a photo with her phone of the Condor Squadron performing a flyover during a ceremony honoring 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Pasadena Councilmember, Jess Rivas, and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps member, Cadet Ching, assists in...

    U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps member, Cadet Ching, assists in reading the names of 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Pasadena Councilmember Jess Rivas and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • The city of Pasadena honored 320 service members from the...

    The city of Pasadena honored 320 service members from the city who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Pasadena Councilmember Jess Rivas and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps member, Cadet Sanchez, assists in...

    U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps member, Cadet Sanchez, assists in reading the names of 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Pasadena Councilmember Jess Rivas and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • Pasadena Councilmember, Jess Rivas, assists in reading names of 320...

    Pasadena Councilmember, Jess Rivas, assists in reading names of 320 service members from the city who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. Each name was read out by Rivas and members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • A Marine stands at attention during a funeral honor service...

    A Marine stands at attention during a funeral honor service for Lance CPL. Rogelio A. Ramirez, who was killed in Iraq, during a ceremony honoring 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

  • A flag is presented to Irene Ramirez for her son,...

    A flag is presented to Irene Ramirez for her son, Lance Cpl. Rogelio A. Ramirez, who was killed in Iraq in 2007, during a ceremony honoring 320 service members from Pasadena who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts during a ceremony at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Monday, May 27, 2024. (Photo by Trevor Stamp, Contributing Photographer)

Reading the names were City Councilmember Jess Rivas, along with members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division.

In a stirring individual tribute, Irene Ramirez was presented with a folded American flag in honor of her son, Lance Cpl. Rogelio A. Ramirez, who was killed in Iraq in 2007

All eyes turned skyward when the Condor Squadron performed a “missing man” flyover during the ceremony.

In Rosemead, Archbishop José H. Gomez presided over a special outdoor Memorial Day Mass at Resurrection Cemetery and Mortuary.

And in Hollywood, Joseph Pietroforte, a U.S. Army sergeant during World War II who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a member of the 5th Infantry Division commanded by Gen. George S. Patton, was among the speakers at the Memorial Day Remembrance at the American Legion’s Hollywood Post 43.

In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Joe Biden 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.

“Together, we vow to honor their memories by carrying on their work to forge a more perfect Union,” Biden said.

Staff writers Michael Hixon, Christopher Haire, Lisa Jacobs and Holly Abrams, as well as City News Service, contributed to this report.

More articles

Latest article