Memorial Day observances to honor military personnel from Civil War to 21st Century

- A wall listing the names of armed forces members killed in service to the nation since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be unveiled today along with a monument honoring Civil War veterans.

Other events marking Memorial Day in Los Angeles County will include a walk in Brentwood benefiting an organization providing services to homeless veterans, a parade in Canoga Park and a 24-hour vigil in Boyle Heights.

A reading of the 6,864 names on the "Honoring Our Fallen -- Memorial Wall" will begin at 6 a.m. at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach. The unveiling ceremony will be held at 4 p.m.

"The wall will be a place where families and friends can come to visit, do a name rubbing, place a flower and see their loved ones sacrifice is not forgotten," said Laura Herzog, founder and CEO of Honoring Our Fallen, a Cypress-based nonprofit organization which conducts programs helping the children and spouses of service members killed in the line of duty. "For some families in California, this wall will be the closest place
they can come as their hero is buried out of state or a distance too far to travel on a moment's decision."

A monument honoring the five Civil War veterans buried at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar will be dedicated at an observance beginning at 11a.m. The observance at the 142-year-old graveyard will also include a rifle salute and flag raising.

The sixth annual Walk for Warriors at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center Campus in Brentwood will begin at 8 a.m. The 5-kilometer walk benefits New Directions for Veterans which provides services to hundreds of Los Angeles County's homeless veterans, those at risk of homelessness and their families.

The 27th annual Memorial Day Parade organized by the Canoga Park-West Hills Chamber of Commerce will begin at 11 a.m. at Sherman Way and Owensmouth Avenue and head east on Sherman Way to Cozycroft Avenue. Its theme is "Saluting the Price of Freedom."

What is billed as the Southland's largest annual Memorial Day observance will be held at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. The 90-minute program will begin at 10 a.m. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James T. Loeblein, the commander of the Carrier Strike Group 1.

The observance will also include a flyover of a C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft; skydivers; a parade of colors by members of all branches of the armed forces; musical performances by bands and bagpipers; a wreath-laying and 21-gun salute; and the release of 100 doves.

Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier will begin its 96th annual Memorial Day Observance at 11 a.m. U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Leopoldo Ruiz, who is assigned to the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West,
will deliver the keynote address. The observance will also include performances by the Warren High School Concert Band and the Downey Calvary Chapel Christian School Choir, a vintage plane flyover, a military vehicle display, remembrance trees and children's activities.

Memorial Day remembrances are also planned for the Forest Lawn memorial parks in the Covina Hills, Glendale, Hollywood Hills and Long Beach.

The 69th annual 24-hour Memorial Day Vigil at the war memorial in Cinco Puntos on Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights will conclude at 10 a.m. At least one person will be standing guard throughout the vigil, which began at 10a.m. Sunday.

Inglewood's 68th annual Memorial Day Service will begin at 11 a.m. at Inglewood City Hall. The service will include the playing of "Taps," presentation of colors, remarks by military guests and a memorial wreath laying service.

Pico Rivera's Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the city's Veterans Monument and include a tribute to Korean War veterans. U.S. Army Capt. Brandon J. Archuleta, an assistant professor of American Politics at the U.S. Military Academy who was raised in Pico Rivera, will deliver the keynote speech.

Mayor Eric Garcetti encouraged the public to spend Memorial Day "with family or friends, in gratitude for the sacrifices of those who served to protect our country and give us the freedom we enjoy today."

Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon called Memorial Day "an important opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices so many of our brothers and sisters have made in the cause of freedom."

"From the first shots at Lexington, to the shores of Normandy and the ongoing war on terror, we owe our gratitude to the men and women who have given their lives," de Leon, D-Los Angeles, told City News Service.

"We also owe it to those brave souls to uphold the values they fought for. That means protecting the rights of freedom of expression and religion, and cherishing the diverse cultures that make America great.

"This nation has always been a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, intolerance and fascism. We have always been a light in the darkness for the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. As we gather with family and loved ones this long weekend, let's remember and honor that legacy in the name of our fallen heroes."

In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Barack Obama cited a 1950 joint resolution by Congress by proclaiming today as a day of prayer for permanent peace designating the hour beginning in each locality at 11 a.m. as a time during which people may unite in prayer. Obama also designated 3 p.m. local time "as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance," under a bill signed into law in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton.

"Since America's earliest days, proud patriots have forged a safer, more secure nation, and though battlefields have changed and technology has evolved, the selflessness of our service members has remained steadfast," Obama declared in his proclamation. "They have stepped forward when our country was locked in revolution and civil war; fought threats of fascism and terrorism; and led the way in securing peace and stability around the globe. They have sacrificed more than most of us could ever imagine -- not for glory or gratitude, but for causes greater than themselves."

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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