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Pasadena Pays Tribute to Fallen Heroes at Memorial Day Commemoration

City honors 320 service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts spanning World War I to the War on Terror

Published on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | 5:55 am

The City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Veterans Day Committee held a solemn Memorial Day Commemoration on Monday, May 27, at Memorial Park in Old Pasadena.

The ceremony, described as the “first in memory” Memorial Day event dedicated to honoring Pasadena’s fallen military members, paid tribute to 320 men and women from the city who gave their lives during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror.

A missing man formation of airplanes of the Condor Squadron, symbolizing respect for those who did not return from battle, flew over the gathering at the Park’s bandshell.

Founded in 1965 by World War II veteran fighter pilots, the Squadron operates a fleet of North American AT-6 Texan aircraft from that era to honor military aviation through flight exhibitions and remembrance events.

Former Pasadena Mayor and Marine veteran Bill Paparian, now a Captain in the California State Guard, led the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Paparian explained a tribute to prisoners of war set up in front of the bandshell, including the symbolism of the white tablecloth, single red rose, yellow ribbon, lemon, salt, inverted glass, and empty chair.

District 5 Councilmember Jessica Rivas, who currently serves as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, read aloud, along with members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division, the names of the fallen Pasadena residents who gave their lives in military service.

Specific honors for valor were posthumously recognized, including Joe Ryo Hayashi, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor; Thomas Joseph Sanchez, U.S. Army, Distinguished Service Cross; Mark Niggol Enari, U.S. Army, Silver Star; and Montrose G. McCormick, U.S. Navy, who was awarded two Silver Stars for valor.

Paparian also recounted the words of Chaplain Roland Gittelsohn, who, in 1945, was not allowed to participate in an Iwo Jima memorial service because he was a Rabbi.

In a speech that soon became famous worldwide, Gittelsohn emphasized the unity and equality among the fallen, stating, “Together here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together here no man prefers another because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many men from each group are admitted or allowed Among these men, there is no discrimination, no prejudice. No hatred.”

The ceremony concluded with funeral honors performed by the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, symbolizing the respect and gratitude owed to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In a stirring individual tribute, Irene Ramirez was presented with a folded American flag in honor of her son, Lance Cpl. Rogelio A. Ramirez, who was killed in Iraq in 2007.

The presentation was made by representatives from the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines.

The event was sponsored by the City of Pasadena Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, The Rose Bowl Stadium, and the Pasadena Management Association. Additional supporters and sponsors included 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, American Legion Pasadena Posts #13 and #280,  Martin Severance Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Pasadena Media, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Pasadena Division, and Vietnam Veterans of America Ch. 446.

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