An honor guard from the U S Army Reserve Volunteers presented our American and California flags on Memorial Day at a ceremony in front of Monterey Park City Hall.
American Legion Commander Ray Villalobos from Post 397 led the crowd of residents and veterans in the Pledge of Allegiance. World War II veteran William Sanchez, Mayor Anthony Wong, Mayor Pro Tem Betty Tom Chu, Councilmembers David Lau and Mitch Ing, City Clerk Dave Barron and City Treasurer Joseph Leon proudly saluted our flag.
Legion member Gil Beltran played a mournful Taps in honor of our war dead.
Legion member Julian Vasquez and members of the Monterey Park Police Department placed a beautiful wreath at the War Memorial in front of City Hall. The memorial has a list of the names of all residents who died fighting for our country.
Mr. Sanchez introduced the elected officials, veterans with their families and special guests to the residents who sat under the shade trees at city hall.
Post Chaplain Tom McCrady asked God to protect our men and women who serve in the armed forces. Let those lives lost not be in vain.
Mr. Sanchez said he was happy to be here. He fought in the South Pacific and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Today is a very important day in our calendar year. Today we remember all of those who fought for our freedoms. Sometimes we forget why we can enjoy our freedoms. We don’t remember all of those who fought and died for us. We pay a heavy price for freedom. Freedom is not free. He spoke about Arlington National Cemetery where military members with their family members can be buried with honors for serving our nation. Now people have to wait about a month to be buried there because Greatest Generation is dying off at a fast pace. We need to educate our youth about their history.
Mr. Sanchez introduced his fellow World War II veterans and long time residents: Joe Soto, who survived the bombing at Pearl Harbor; Jesse Samaniego, a Pathfinder at Normandy; Ed Griffen, a member of Screeching Eagle from the European Theatre; David Fuentes, a member of the 1st Calvary, who liberated the Japanese war prisoners; Colonial Henry Cervantes, a B17 bomber and Judge Aguirre, who’s father served in Japan. He remembered Bill Delphin, who fought in the Pacific Theatre. Mr. Delphin recently died.
He thanked everyone for being here today. He also introduced Jamie Rodriguez from Senator Calderon’s office and the Boy Scouts from Troop 301.
Mayor Wong thanked the veterans, the Legion and the residents for their participation in this event. He reminded everyone the meaning of Memorial Day. This is a Day of National Mourning. It is a sacred day for all veterans. Americans should be aware of the deaths of their fellow Americans who died at war. Our freedoms are paid for by the lives of many people we never knew. Remember the veterans with a moment of prayer. We must appreciate the veterans’ sacrifices and work together to enjoy all of our freedoms.
Mayor Pro Tem Chu thanked all for coming here today to celebrate Memorial Day. She is a mother of a police officer and the wife of an Army veteran so she knows about the hours of anxiety for the families of those who serve. She thanked those veterans who died and all the veterans who can home safely. She read two poems “Flanders Fields” from World War I and another recent poem with the theme stating the veterans give us our freedoms. We are acknowledging the veterans by being here today. She asked for prayers for those serving today and thanked all the veterans.
Mr. Lau stated we are here today to celebrate Memorial Day, a Day of National Mourning. For today we honor our war dead and remember our MIAs, POWs and those maimed by war. Freedom is not free. The veterans sacrificed their lives for our futures. He asked that we support our fire and police departments. They serve the community and keep our city safe and secure. We should always remember the veterans and treat them with respect. He thanked the veterans for their support. We need to be united as a nation to fight against terrorists. He hopes the world leaders can work together for peace, freedom and prosperity. Let’s work together.
Mr. Ing spoke about a trip he and his son took to Washington, D C. They saw many of the historical sites in the area. His son’s favorite place is Arlington National Cemetery where all the markers are set up row by row. He also spoke about his material grandfather who fought in World War II. He did not want the youth to forget the veterans and their sacrifices. They should never be forgotten. He thanked all the residents and veterans for coming here today.
Mr. Leon thanked everyone for joining together in this celebration. It is the day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom should not be taken for granted. He spoke about his mother (a Cuban refugee) who stated in this country we have so many choices. Many people in other countries don’t enjoy our freedoms. He thanked the veterans who returned here today.
Mr. Barron spoke about the name Basilone that he said was on a sign at one of his job sites. He discovered that World War II veteran John Basilone, son of Italian immigrants, was a Medal of Honor winner. He was killed at Iwo Jima. Most of our military forces in the United States have been made up of recent immigrants and children of recent immigrants who fought for their country. He suggested that parents and grandparents teach your children history. He thanked all for coming out today for this celebration.
Mayor Wong thanks the American Legion, veterans, police officers, firefighters and residents for joining us here today.
Chaplain McCrady closed the event by asking everyone to please keep our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in our prayers. He asked God to protect the troops and their families.
Commander Villalobos thanked the City Council and staff for their support of this event. He thanked the Opti-Mrs. for their donation of the wreath. He invited everyone to join them for a luncheon at the American Legion Post 397.