La Mirada~A beautiful La Mirada spring morning greeted over 300 people as they attended the annual Memorial Day Program at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada this past Monday.
The traditional program was hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) La Mirada Post 9148, its Ladies Auxiliary, and Olive Lawn-along with added support provided by the City of La Mirada.
Past Commander of the Post, Rick Bergquist, presided over the ceremony, informing the crowd the holiday was formerly known as Decoration Day, and originated after the AmericanCivil War. But by the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.
He explained that in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order "to create a convenient three-day weekend," which drew a chuckle from the crowd.
Numerous American flags peppered the cemetery on this day, placed on veteran's graves by Boy Scouts, "La Mirada is well represented by the veteran community here," said Berquist.
Christopher Guerra (Troop 919), a Boy Scouts of America Life Scout, led the crowd for the Pledge of Allegiance.
An inspiring Memorial Day address was given by Captain Roy Twaddell, Chaplain, California State Military Reserve.
The glorious voice of Jacinda Perez filled the park, captivating and consuming the crowd with her rendition of "God Bless America."
Participants and representatives in the Placing of the Memorial Wreaths Ceremony included: Gold Star Mother Harriet Peebler and her daughter Janice Smith; the City of La Mirada, represented by Mayor Gabe Garcia, Mayor pro tem Steve DeRuse, and city council members Steve Jones and Larry Mowles; the Ebell Club of La Mirada, Jeanette Jenkins; Kiwanis Club of La Mirada, Alan Morrison, Debbie Scheibel, Tom Thornton; the Lions Club of La Mirada, Carlos Zavala; and the Rotary Club of La Mirada, Mark Troughton, Rick Jones, and Steve DeRuse.
Also participating, from the VFW: Commander Bryan Taylor, Senior Vice, Sal Mendoza, and President Eva Santana; along with Faye Munoz, Gil Perez and Norma Scott.
Paying a tribute to Iraq and Afghanistan casualties were Boy Scouts Troop 919 (Carl Freeman, Scout Master), Troop 438 (Moses Covarrubias, Cub Master), and Cub Scout Pack 919 (Phil Millman, Scout Master).
The list of the VFW post members that have perished since Memorial Day of last year were recited, they include: Donald Cornelison, David Corwick, Walter Lawetzki, Charles Naslund, Arvin Olp, Julio Palacios, Thrurber Proffitt, Alfred Santana, John Stephens, Charles Terzo and Joe Trujillo.
Lawetzki, buried at Olive Lawn, was part of the VFW Honor Guard and coordinated the Posting of Colors at this event the past 18 years.
Attending the ceremony for the first time since her husband's death this past winter, Lawetzki's widow Robin told us it was tough, "But I made it through it with all the support I receive from my extended family," she said, referring to the VFW members, "he was very active around here and he did quite a lot."
The Lawetzki's son, Walter Jr., participated in the ceremony in remembrance of his father.
Mayor Garcia told us the event is more than ceremonial, "It's our civic responsibility, to recognize people past, present, and future who serve in the United States Military."
To see all the photos of the event click here