Members of Boy Scout Troop 301 from the Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church joined with Councilmembers Mitch Ing, Betty Tom Chu and Frank Venti and WWII Veteran William R. Sanchez behind the War Memorial in front of the Monterey Park City Hall on May 25.
Members of American Legion Post 397 and the city had a joint ceremony to honor all the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow Americans.
Members of the Post presented the colors as the Boy Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd clapped at the end of our National Anthem.
Members of the Post, Fire Department and Police Department presented wreaths at the War Memorial and the First Responders Memorial.
Mayor Mitch Ing welcomed everyone to the Memorial Day event. He recognized the Boy Scouts; members of the Fire and Police Departments and American Legion Post 397 Commander Ray Villalobos.
Post Chaplain Tom McCrady led the invocation. He asked God to provide hope that those lives lost were not in vain.
Mayor Ing shared his story about his grandfather, an Army veteran of World War II. He listened to all of his stories. His grandfather would be proud that he is the mayor of the city. He spoke about his visit to Washington, DC for the Inauguration. He took his son with him. His son told him Arlington Cemetery is his favorite place because it is so patriotic.
Mayor Pro Tem Wong thanked the American Legion, police officers, firefighters and the Boy Scouts for joining us to commemorate the veterans and heroes who died defending our country. They also fight to protect life and human rights across the world. We must share love and kindness with each other. He thanked the heroes and asked God’s blessing on all.
Mrs. Chu said other days are bright and cheerful. Today is gray and somber. North Korea is threatening the world with nuclear weapons. She is wearing her husband’s dog tags as a reminder. She thanked the American Legion, police officers, firefighters and Boy Scouts for sharing this event.
She stated Sgt. Eric Mejia sent his greetings because he could not be here today. She read a poem dedicated to all veterans and all the fallen heroes.
Mrs. Chu asked the residents to request the president and Congress take care of our veterans with better health and education benefits as well as jobs. The veterans give us a gift of freedom that money cannot buy. She thanked all of those who served in all the wars.
Mr. Lau said it was an honor to join with everyone today to remember the fallen heroes. He thanked members of the Post. We enjoy freedom in the United States. Freedom is not free. Our military members make a lot of sacrifices for our freedom. Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice. Others have been injured physically or mentally. They should be respected. We must ask the government to assist them. Please support the president. Pray for the safe return for all our men and women fighting for our freedoms.
Mr. Venti said we don’t know who will die today or next week. He served in Korea after the fighting. He recently visited his old campsite in Korea. It was an incredible site, a change from 50 plus years to today. He saw the freedoms and prosperity there.
He remembered Eddie Chavez, who was drafted into the Korean War. Eddie was killed in action. He remembered Eddie on his visit to Korea.
Mr. Venti said he joined the military to help protect our freedom. He thanked all the veterans and their families. He thanked the police officers and firefighters, the American Legion and the Boy Scouts. He thanked the residents for showing their support. Please remember all of the fallen who gave so much. He asked God’s blessing on all.
City Clerk Dave Barron said this is a weekend for remembrance of all those who died. Remember all those who were injured and some of them have died from their injuries. He spoke about his niece’s husband who died a week after coming home from the Middle East. She is working with others to try to get more assistance for the military who are injured in the war and their families.
City Treasurer Joseph Leon said it is a great day to be here to honor all of those who sacrificed for us today. He is from Cuba. His father was taken to a re-education camp. They were able to flee to America. Don’t take freedom for granted. It could be taken away.
Assemblymember Mike Eng said his father was one of seven children. He was in college when he was drafted into World War II. His father recalled they were some of the best years of his life. He told about his parents’ plight to get better housing in San Francisco after the war. His father wore his uniform and a property owner dumped garbage on him. His father was never bitter. He fought for people like her. He could not be buried in the Punch Bowl Cemetery in Hawaii, as there was no room for him.
His mother was very upset. His brother, a minister, told the family it does not matter where their husband and father is buried because he is always in our hearts.
Mr. Eng thanked Monterey Park for having a memorial service. It is in honor of all the veterans. It is a personal thing to honor them. He asked God’s blessing on all.
Henry Lo, a representative of Senator Gloria Romero thanked everyone for being here today. He thanked all of those military members who bled and died for our freedoms.
Mr. Sanchez called Monterey Park his hometown. He had a scholarship for UCLA. He enlisted before he was drafted and served in the Philippines in World War II. The troops were ordered to hold back the Japanese at any cost after Pearl Harbor. The Allies were trying to establish another outpost in Australia. He told of his plight as one of the many troops that were captured by the Japanese. He recalled how they were treated cruelty as prisoners of war and forced on the Bataan Death March where hundreds of people died. He was later shipped over to Tokyo before being rescued by his fellow Americans after the bombs were dropped on Japan.
He said freedom is not free. Visit a military cemetery and see all of the people who sacrificed for our freedom. The Greatest Generation built the greatest economy is the United States after the war with the GI Bill of Rights that provided a chance for an advanced education and a chance to buy a home.
He said that he always felt that he failed when he was taken prisoner until years later when he met with three retired generals from Japan. He knew then he helped to win the war in the South Pacific.
Mayor Ing thanked the American Legion for their participation. He thanked the Opti-Mrs. for their wreath. He thanked everyone for being here today.
The veterans formed a receiving line so all the residents could shake their hands and thank them for their service to our country.
The Post provided a delicious luncheon after the event.