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“Remembering Our Fallen” Exhibit Opens in Pasadena with Saturday Memorial Ceremony

Published on Sunday, September 20, 2015 | 8:11 am

More than 150 friends and family gathered in the courtyard of American Legion Pasadena, Post 13 at 6:15 p.m. Saturday evening for a memorial ceremony to open the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit, a traveling photo memorial of California’s 711 fallen warriors who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terror.

An hour before the ceremony, Gold Star Family members of seven fallen warriors from the San Gabriel Valley had a private viewing of the exhibit accompanied by Chief Phillip Sanchez of the Pasadena Police Department, and U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu presented each Gold Star Family with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition.

Sue Pollard, National Chaplain for Gold Star Mothers, opened the ceremony with an invocation, and Gene Sacco, Past National Commander of the Sons of the American Legion followed with opening remarks and presided over the ceremony.

Quoting Thucydides, Sacco said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet…go out and meet it.”

Ed Blecksmith, veteran USMC, Vietnam, and Gold Star father of Marine Second Lieutenant, JP Blecksmith, who died in Fallujah, Iraq on November 11th, 2004, spoke about his experiences as a Marine, and as the father of a fallen Marine. After describing September 4, 1967 in Vietnam as “the worst day of my life,” having lost sixteen of his young Marines in battle, Blecksmith went on to say that “nothing prepares you for that moment when the military casualty officer knocks on your door….a piece of your heart is cut out.” Yet, “Do we give up on life?” asked Blecksmith, “or do we honor our sons’ lives by living our lives [with honor], not to glorify war, but to honor those young men and women who stepped into the breach…to keep our nation free?”

Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez concluded the spoken portion of the ceremony saying that as the parents of a Special Forces soldier, he and his wife are “profoundly aware of the consequences” of a choice to serve in the military to “protect freedom…protect the vulnerable, and preserve human rights”.

Chief Sanchez remarked that as individuals we should “openly express our gratitude daily that there are people willing to put their lives on the line”, and he described the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit as “profound and powerful, and in a humble way, peaceful.”

The ceremony included several musical tributes by members and alumni of the Flintridge Preparatory School Choir/Oneonta Church Chancel Choir, directed by Steve Hill, and members of the 2d Battalion, 23rd Marines presented the colors.

A bagpipe procession and a 21 gun salute concluded the ceremony. Blair High School Junior ROTC cadets assisted with hosting the ceremony and reception.

San Gabriel Valley’s seven fallen warriors are Army 1st Lieutenant Todd J. Bryant (d. 10/31/03 in Iraq), Marine 2d Lieutenant, JP Blecksmith (d. 11/11/04 in Iraq), Marine Lance Cpl Dion M. Whitley (d. 6/15/05 in Ramadi Iraq), Marine Lance Cpl Sergio H. Escobar (d. 10/09/05 in Ramadi, Iraq), Army Specialist Adam j. Rosema (d. 3/14/07 in Baquba, Iraq), Marine Lance Cpl Rogelio A. Ramirez (d. 8/26/07), and Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Scott R. Studenmund (d. 6/09/14 in the Gaza Valley, Afghanistan).

The “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit is open to the public September 20th through September 26th, from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at American Legion Pasadena, Post 13, 131 N. Marengo Ave. For more information on the “Remembering Our Fallen” traveling memorial exhibits, go to

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