Members of American Legion Post 397 posted the colors during the Memorial Day service held in front of Monterey Park’s City Hall on May 28.
Commander Gabriel Suarez welcomed everyone to this special event. The veterans saluted the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem as the residents held their hands over their hearts.
Post Chaplain Tom McCrady led the invocation. He asked God who called so many of their comrades to the afterlife for peace where love, hope and fulfillment will be theirs forever. Please comfort us and grant eternal rest to the souls of the faithful departed.
Robin Williams and Connie Morales from the Ladies Auxiliary Unit 397 presented the wreath in front of the war memorial.
Commander Suarez asked for a moment of silence for all of those who died for our freedoms.
Councilmember Judy Chu presented proclamations to Commander Suarez and Mayor Lau.
Congressmember Chu recognized all of those who served our country. They paid for our freedom with their ultimate sacrifices. She spoke with sorrow of her young nephew who died overseas. We are here to honor the memory of 4,400 military members who died Afghanistan, 1,800 military members who died in Iraq and the 40,000 military members who were wounded. We must remember all of those who have fought and died. She thanked the military members of their service.
Mayor David Lau welcomed all to this Memorial Day to celebrate, honor and remember our fallen veterans and their families. They served the country with courage. They sacrificed their futures and lives so we can have a better future for our children. Always remember them everyday and pray for the safe return of our military members to their families. He asked God to bless Monterey Park, America and everyone.
Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Ing said we are here to remember the men and women who served our country. He spoke about his grandfather who was a veteran of World War II and his wife’s grandfathers who also served. His grandfather instilled in him that when you give money to the homeless don’t worry how the money will be spent. Always give. He remembers these words 30 years later. He spoke of the Veterans Concert held each year in November at Mark Keppel. He read a poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Col. John McCrae during World War I. The “Poppy” is the symbol of veterans around the world. He thanked everyone for coming out today. He asked God’s blessing on America and the audience.
Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian thanked the residents for joining with us today. She gave a brief history on Memorial Day that was first called Decoration Day to place flowers on the gravesites of the veterans. She reminded the audience of the history of “Taps” or Lights Out that is played at all military funerals. She read the words that held memories for all of us. She voiced her deepest gratitude to all of those who served and lost their lives. She asked God to bless America.
Councilmember Anthony Wong said we all know that today is the day we fellow Americans gather to thank the veterans for their service. Veterans defend our country against all enemies and promote freedom and democracy in all of the lands in the world. All people should have the same opportunities as Americans. We must show kindness and love so the veterans’ sacrifices would not be in vain. He thanked them and asked God’s blessing on them and America.
Councilmember Betty Tom Chu welcomed all. She asked if the residents understand the cost of freedom. She shared a long e-mail from Staff Sgt. John Eric Mejia who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He asked that people remember why we are here today. Remember the veterans both dead and alive. We honor all those who served for our freedom. Freedom is a belief in our life. It is not free. Keep faith with all of our veterans. What will we do to thank the veterans for our freedoms? We need to remember our veterans who heeded the call of our wars. Veterans did their part to insure freedom and peace. We must remember the sacrifices of all the veterans. Thank the families of the fallen and pray for the wounded for a fast recovery. She asked God to bless all of the veterans, their families and all of the residents.
City Clerk Dave Barron stated we are joined in honoring those who sacrificed their lives. His family suffered no losses in World War II, Korea and Viet Nam. He thanked everyone for being here today.
City Treasurer Joseph Leon said we are here to honor the men and women and their families who served. His wife’s nephew is currently serving today. They are proud of him and all of those serving today.
William R. Sanchez, World War II veteran was the keynote speaker. He thanked all for being here today. He spoke about a celebration in the Philippines where all of the military were honored. The President of the Philippines personally honored him. He was a POW of the Japanese during the famous Death March. They followed the various markers on the same trail and visited the American Cemetery. It was stressful trip that was hard on the mind and body seeing all of the places where the hardships occurred. He was happy to come home to Monterey Park to enjoy the freedoms today. He suggested that people visit a military cemetery today and see all of the flags. Freedom is not free.
Johnny Zamora, a Mark Keppel graduate, gave his military background. He lost close friends and was injured during his service. We are here today to honor our fellow comrades. We will not forget our fallen soldiers. We owe a great deal of gratitude for our freedoms. He read a poem that credits the soldiers who has given us our freedoms. Please make a difference by reminding people the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Commander Suarez thanked all the veterans who served and their family members. Remember to honor the veterans and their spouses. We must remember to support our veterans. We can’t forget the struggles of the war. Freedom is not free. He thanked all of the honored guests, the Auxiliary, the city and the firefighters. He invited everyone to the open house at the Post and the Flag Burning Ceremony.
US Army Veteran Bill Sanchez, US Navy Veteran Ken Robledo and US Army Veteran Ruben Robledo attended the celebration.
They were two military flyovers during the event.
Veterans from Post 397 gathered in front of the war memorial to remember and honor their fallen comrades.
Chaplain McCrady offered a prayer at the beginning of the Flag Burning Ceremony. Today we honor our dead. We burn the old flags and the smoke comes up to the sky to honor them. He asked God to bless all.
Veterans with the assistance from two great grandchildren of World War II veterans, Boy Scout Troop 301 and Brownie Troop 4164 helped to prepare the old flags for the ceremony. The cut the stars from the strips before placing them into a fire pit filled with paper.
The flags were lit and the smoke drifted towards the heavens. The flags burned until they were burned out. This ceremony is used by the military and scouts to dispose of unserviceable American flags with honor. They are our precious symbol of freedom and democracy.
Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Ing joined with veterans of Post 397 during the open house.