Events Across The LA Southland To Honor The Fallen Soldier

Events Across The LA Southland To Honor The Fallen Soldier

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11 / CNS) Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti is scheduled to speak in Boyle Heights, while other Memorial Day observances in Los Angeles County today will include a parade in Canoga Park and a five-kilometer walk in Brentwood benefiting a veterans group. Garcetti, a lieutenant in the Naval Reserves, will speak at a 10 a.m. ceremony at the intersection commonly known as Cinco Puntos near the Mexican-American All Wars Memorial. U.S. Army Reserves Maj. Gen. Megan Tatu will deliver the keynote speech.

The City Council recently approved a proposal by Garcetti to create a veterans coordinator at City Hall, an attempt to ensure the city government helps veterans receive the medical, housing and other benefits they need andhave earned, an aide said.

"As mayor, I will continue fighting to make sure no veteran is ever left behind,'' Garcetti said. "Let's truly honor our veterans by making sure those in need can access the health care, housing and employment services they have earned.''

The Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Owensmouth Avenue and Sherman Way. It will then head east on Sherman Way to Mason Avenue, ending at the First Baptist Church of Canoga Park.

The parade's theme is "Saluting the Price of Freedom.'' It will include military marching units, bands, floats, antique and classic cars, youth groups and equestrian units. World War II veterans Constantine Salvalas, 92, and Wendell R. Ware, 94, will be the grand marshals.

Following the parade, a classic car show will be held at the First Baptist Church of Canoga Park from noon-4 p.m. The third annual Walk for Warriors will begin at 9 a.m. at the West Los
Angeles VA Campus in Brentwood. The five-kilometer walk raises funds for New Directions, which seeks to end homelessness among veterans and educate employers about the value of hiring veterans.

Organizers expect a crowd of 5,000 for the 28th annual Memorial Day Observance at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, billed as the Southland's largest annual Memorial Day observance. The two-hour program will begin at 10 a.m. The keynote speaker will be retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, a former member of the Army's elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Bowman lost parts of his legs in a midair collision with another team member during practice in 1994.

Bowman later became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the U.S. Army. He will skydive into Green Hills Memorial Park to deliver his address. The observance will also include aerial fly-overs by vintage aircraft, skydivers displaying American and military flags, a parade of colors from all branches of the armed forces, veterans' groups and area police and fire departments, musical performances by the country singer Matt Rogers, bagpipers and military bands, wreath-laying and a 21-gun salute and the release of 100 doves.

More than 600 World War II veterans are expected aboard the USS Iowa, docked in San Pedro, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to mark the start of the seven-stop "Spirit of '45'' tour, to promote a documentary about Americans who fought in World War II and to restore spirit, a willingness to sacrifice for others and a sense of national unity.

El Monte's Memorial Day Ceremony at 9 a.m. at Tony Arceo Memorial Park will feature a keynote speech by Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Gomez, son of Councilman Juventino "J'' Gomez. It will also include a tribute to prisoners of war and those missing in action, a presentation of a wreath, a 21-gun salute and an El Monte High School student playing "Taps.''

Inglewood will hold its 65th annual Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. at City Hall. It will include the playing of "Taps,'' presentation of colors, and a memorial wreath laying.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will mark Memorial Day by conducting Military Appreciation Day during their interleague game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Dodger Stadium, which begins at 5:10 p.m.

Pregame ceremonies will begin with the playing of a message on the stadium's video board from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. A moment of silence will be conducted before the game to honor members of the military who lost their lives serving the nation.

Fifty members of Wounded Warriors will enter through center field. Uniformed members of each branch of the military will unfurl a giant flag in the outfield.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon who flew 66 missions as a fighter pilot during the Korean War, will throw the ceremonial first pitch. He will sign copies of his book, "Mission to Mars'' at the Top of the Park store until the end of the third inning.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. De'Jon Fruga from the 452 Mobility Wing stationed at March Air Force Base will sing the national anthem. Hall of Fame member Tommy Lasorda, who served in the U.S. Army, will lead fans in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!'' during the seventh-inning stretch. Relatives of Army Lt. Alejo R. Thompson, who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on May 11, 2012,  will officially start the game by declaring, "It's time for Dodger baseball.''

The Veteran of the Game is Army Master Sgt. Bobby Farmer, who enlisted in 1992, served in Kosovo, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and is a recipient of a Purple Heart, Bronze Star for Valor and Army Commendation for Valor. Both teams will wear specially designed caps and jerseys featuring a military digital camouflage design licensed from the U.S. Marine Corps. caps

All net proceeds from the sales of the jerseys and caps will be donated to Welcome Back Veterans, a program which addresses the needs of returning American veterans and their families.

President Barack Obama proclaimed today as a day of prayer for permanent peace, designating 11 a.m. in each time zone as a time to unite in prayer and 3 p.m. to observe the national moment of remembrance. He also requested that flags to flown at half-staff until noon.

"Today, we pay tribute to those patriots who never came back, who fought for a home to which they never returned and died for a country whose gratitude they will always have,'' Obama proclaimed. "Scripture teaches us that `greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' "On Memorial Day, we remember those we have lost not only for what they fought for, but who they were -- proud Americans, often far too young, guided by deep and abiding love for their families, each other and for this country. "Our debt to them is one we can never fully repay. But we can honor their sacrifice and strive to be a nation equal to their example.'' 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.

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