PALMDALE — About 150 people attended a Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the City of Palmdale at Ponciltán Square Monday morning.
Members of the crowd wore cloth face coverings and observed social distancing guidelines, staying six feet apart from each other throughout the approximately hour-long event.
“We have lost many of our comrades, women and men, on the battlefields on foreign soils,” master of ceremonies U.S. Army veteran Juan Blanco said. “But then we have lost many of our men and women on our own soils who, after surviving a tour of duty, came home and didn’t make it for the future. Because sometimes in battle the pressure is so great when you’re out of battle to deal with what had happened during battle, that continuing on becomes impossible.”
Guests included state Sen. Scott Wilk, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, Mayor Steve Hofbauer and Brigadier Gen. David Smith, Installation Support director for Edwards Air Force Base.
City Manager J.J. Murphy, a U.S. Air Force veteran, addressed the crowd.
“As a veteran, oftentimes people think Memorial Day honors all veterans,” he said. “While it is always nice to be thanked, this weekend is specifically for those brave Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.”
Memorial Day is often considered the start of summer. But this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are somewhat restricted from flocking to their favorite vacation spots to bask in the sun on the beach, Murphy said.
“Therefore, this year, as many people are home with their freedoms restricted, I believe it is especially important to remember the beaches of Normandy, the deadly winters of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the sands of Iraq, the desert of Afghanistan or the countless sacred grounds worldwide, both named and unnamed, in our history books where Americans paid the ultimate price for freedom that many nations, including our own, enjoy today,” he said. “We have always been blessed with heroic Americans willing to give the last full measure of devotion for their families, their countrymen on this holiday. We are obligated to take a moment to remember.”
Smith also addressed the crowd.
“Honor our veterans, honor our dead, and never forget that sacrifice,” he said.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3552 carried flags donated by Point Man AV for the Presentation of Colors. U.S. Navy veteran Jack Wolbert said the Pledge of Allegiance and U.S. Navy veteran Bobby Breech sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Linda Hayes, American Legion Post 348 did the laying of the wreath. U.S. Air Force veteran Pastor Carl Hernandez, American Legion Post 348, recited the benediction.
U.S. Army veteran Dennis Anderson gave the invocation and read the poem “In Flanders Field.”
Trisha Waln, wearing a vest from the American Legion Post 311, stood upright on the grass at Ponciltán Square and held a U.S. flag in her right hand, her left hand straight at her side. Her vest included a green and white “Daughter of a Vietnam veteran” and a couple of “proud mom” patches.
Her son serves in the U.S. Navy. Her father-in-law Phillip Waln is a veteran. So is her husband Brent, both members of the American Legion Riders Post 311.
“We’re very excited to be here to support the vets and join in the festivities,” Trisha Waln said.
By JULIE DRAKE
Valley Press Staff Writer
LANCASTER — It would not be Memorial Day without a ceremony at Lancaster Cemetery.
This year’s ceremony was markedly different because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the usual crowd of 200 to 300 veterans and their supporters, Antelope Valley Cemetery District Board Chairman Dave Owens and General Manager Dayle DeBry held a private ceremony with a handful of guests, including Lancaster Councilman Ken Mann.
“We’re just so grateful that we can still mark this day because it needs to be marked regardless of whatever else is going on in the world,” Owens said. “The men and women who gave their lives … whatever’s going on, they were going to make sure that our freedoms were protected.”
DeBry and U.S. Navy veteran Phil Roberts conducted the annual Two Bell Ceremony in honor of the fallen.
“Let us who gather here not forget our obligation and in silence, breathe a prayer for our absent heroes,” Roberts said as he recited the prayer.
DeBry then read the names of the nine military veterans who have passed away or were interred at the cemetery since last year’s Memorial Day and the Antelope Valley Detachment No. 930 of the Marine Corps League’s eight veterans in the Roll of Honor. Roberts rang the bell for each name DeBry read.
DeBry then read the lyrics to “Taps.”
“Thanks and praise, for our days, ‘neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky, as we go, this we know, God is nigh,” DeBry said.
Members of the American Legion Riders Post 311, President Phillip Waln, Brent Waln, Lino Torres and SoCal PGR Ride Captain David Corbin conducted the flag raising ceremony at noon.
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