Memorial Day will be observed in Los Angeles County Monday with events honoring those killed in combat and a walk benefiting an organization assisting veterans making the transition to civilian life.
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 until De Soto Avenue, then south one block to Quimby Park.
The parade's theme is "All Gave Some, Some Gave All." It will include military marching units, bands, floats, classic and antique cars, youth groups and equestrian units. The grand marshal will be Constantine Salvalas, a 91-year- old World War II veteran.
A festival will follow from 1:30-4 p.m. in Quimby Park, including a ceremony honoring troops killed in battle, live music, entertainment and food.
Organizers expect a crowd of 5,000 for the 27th 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 Navy Lt. Michael Thornton, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, for saving the life of a fellow SEAL during a firefight on a reconnaissance mission during the Vietnam War.
Thornton also helped establish and serve on the elite SEAL Team Six.
The observance will also include aerial fly-overs, including a C-17 Globemaster transport, skydivers displaying American and military flags, a parade of colors from all branches of the armed forces, musical performances by the country music duo of Rogers & Bos, bagpipers and military bands; wreath- laying and a 21-gun salute and the release of 100 doves.
The annual Memorial Day Celebration at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills will begin at 10 a.m. Councilman Tom LaBonge will deliver the keynote address, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Jan Perry will read a presidential proclamation and Controller Wendy Greuel will participate in a wreath-laying presentation.
Observances will also be held at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in Covina Hills and Long Beach, beginning at 10 a.m., and Glendale, beginning at 1 p.m.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. James W. Comstock will be the keynote speaker at the 123rd annual Memorial Day Program at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Brentwood, which will begin at 10:30 a.m.
Lakewood's annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Del Valle Park will begin at 11 a.m. and include a reading of the poem "The Boys of Del Valle Park," a tribute to the children who grew up in Lakewood's early days in the 1950s, then served in the Vietnam War.
The poem will be read by John and Teri Kelsall, parents of Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Jonas Kelsall, who was among 30 American troops killed in a helicopter shot down in Afghanistan in August in the largest single loss of American lives during the war.
This is the 20th anniversary of the placement of the poem at Lakewood's Veterans Memorial, located under a jet fighter at the park.
The keynote speaker will be Navy Rear Adm. Garry J. Bonelli, the deputy commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, which develops strategy, doctrine and tactics for naval special warfare forces.
A plaque remembering the El Monte residents killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will be dedicated at the city's annual Memorial Day Celebration at Tony Arceo Memorial Park, which begins at 9 a.m. The keynote speaker will be Army Spc. Agustin Gomez, a Silver Star recipient.
Ceremonies will also be held at the Memorial Obelisk Monument at Inglewood's City Hall, City Memorial Park in Montebello and San Fernando Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, all at 11 a.m., and Veterans Park in Redondo Beach at 1 p.m.
The second annual Memorial Day Walk for Warriors will begin at 8 a.m. at the West Los Angeles Veterans' Affairs Campus. The five-kilometer walk raises funds for New Directions, which provides housing, job training and placement, adult basic education classes and family reunification services for returning veterans.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will honor the military during ceremonies before their 5:10 p.m. game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium.
Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Mejia will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He served two deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and has returned to full duty as a platoon sergeant after stepping on an improvised explosive device in combat operations and spending seven months in a hospital.
The national anthem and "God Bless America" will be performed by Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. DeJon Fruga from March Air Reserve Base.
Army Sgt. Luis Garcia of Orange will be honored as the Veteran of the Game. Garcia enlisted in 2005 and served two tours in Iraq. His honors include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.
Marine Corps Cpl. Ernest Aleman of South Gate, Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Boldt and Sgt. Christopher Johnson of the Marine Crops Air Ground Center in Twentynine Palms will make the "It's time for Dodger baseball" announcement.
Like all major league teams on Memorial Day, the Dodgers will wear Stars & Stripes caps, with a digital camouflage applique filling the logo on the front of the cap.
The cap is available for purchase on Major League Baseball's website, MLB.com. All net proceeds will be donated to Welcome Back Veterans, a program which addresses the needs of returning American veterans and their families.
A federal law adopted in 2000 designates 3 p.m. local time as the time for all Americans, in their own way to observe the National Moment of Remembrance. All managers at Stater Bros. stores will make an announcement at that time to pause for 60 seconds to honor Americans who died to defend freedom.
"Memorial Day was originally established to commemorate America's fallen men and women," Stater Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack H. Brown said.
"Stater Bros. would like to do our part to remind our customers and employees that this is still a sacred and noble holiday and a time when we can all connect as Americans."
In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Barack Obama declared, "On Memorial Day, we honor those who have borne conflict's greatest cost, mourn where the wounds of war are fresh and pray for a just, lasting peace.
"The American fabric is stitched with the stories of sons and daughters who gave their lives in service to the country they loved. They were patriots who overthrew an empire and sparked revolution. They were courageous men and women who strained to hold a young Union together.
"They were ordinary citizens who rolled back the creeping tide of tyranny, who stood post through a long twilight struggle, who saw terror and extremism threaten our world's security and said, 'I'll go."'
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.