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Mix of Virtual, In-Person Memorial Day Observances Planned for L.A. County

By STEVEN HERBERT, City News Service | Pasadena Now contributed to this story
Published on May 31, 2021

Most Memorial Day observances in Los Angeles County will be virtual Monday because of the coronavirus pandemic but an in-person memorial event is scheduled for Monday morning by the Pasadena Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.

The event, a brief Memorial Day service to honor and pay respects to those who have paid the ultimate price for defending our country, is planned for 10:45 a.m. in Memorial Park, at the southeast corner of Raymond Avenue and Walnut Street in Old Pasadena.

Elsewhere, The Condor Squadron will also conduct a flyover before Monday’s Los Angeles Dodgers-St. Louis Cardinals game at Dodger Stadium.

Forest Lawn will hold a live virtual celebration of Memorial Day on its Facebook page,, at 10 a.m. The keynote address will be delivered by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Burghdorf and her husband, U.S. Air Force Maj. Andy Burghdorf.

The ceremony will also include the reading of a presidential proclamation, invocation, color guard and patriotic music.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will celebrate a special Memorial Day Mass at 10 a.m. at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mortuary in Culver City honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. The Mass will be livestreamed on and

“Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, and it is also a day to keep alive the life and memory of so many men and women who unselfishly gave their lives for our country,” Gomez said.

“Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend, and the men and women we remember today were people of great love. So let us honor the memory of those who served by living and defending the values they died for.”

The Battleship Iowa, which is docked at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, will stream a virtual ceremony, “Remembering All Our Heroes,” at 10 a.m. on its YouTube page,

The ceremony will include posting of colors, prayer for the departed, a wreath-laying and remembrance of prisoners of war and military personnel who went missing in action.

The ceremony will be followed by the “Celebration of the American Spirit” musical performance by South Bay classic rock band The Jokers.

Ways for the public to honor fallen military personnel on Memorial Day, suggested by the USO, the nonprofit, charitable corporation that offers a variety of programs and services designed to support service members and their families, include:

  • walking through a veterans cemetery. In the Pasadena area, Mountain View Cemetary is the location of graves of almost 800 Civil War veterans, many veterans of the World Wars, as well as the Spanish-American War in 1898. It is located at 2400 N. Fair Oaks Avenue in Altadena. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • remembering the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors service members who died in military service to the nation. Veterans Day, which is on Nov. 11, honors the men and women who have served in the military;

  • learning about Gold Star Families, the designation reserved for families of military members who died in the line of duty;

  • investigating your family’s military history;

  • virtually visiting a war memorial in Washington. In 2019, the USO made 360-degree videos of several Washington-area war memorials, including the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The videos are on the USO’s YouTube channel,;

  • learning about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and

  • watching a movie about the U.S. military.

In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Joe Biden proclaimed Monday as a day of prayer for permanent peace, designating 11 a.m. in each time zone as a time during which people might unite in prayer and reflection, and urged the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance, citing a 1950 joint resolution by Congress.

Biden also asked all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m. in each time zone under a bill signed into law in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton.

The Moment of Remembrance is a “way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day,” its founder Carmella LaSpada said.

Biden’s proclamation also requested governors of all U.S. states and territories and the appropriate officials of all units of government to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds and naval vessels throughout nation and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control.

Biden also requested the American public to display the flag at half- staff from their homes until noon Monday.

“On Memorial Day, we honor and reflect upon the courage, integrity, and selfless dedication of the members of our armed forces who have made the greatest sacrifice in service to our nation,” Biden declared in his proclamation.

“Whether in the waters of the Pacific, on the beachheads of Europe, in the deserts of the Middle East or in the mountains of Afghanistan, American service members have given their lives to uphold our Constitution and to defend the safety and freedoms of our citizens.

“These patriots embody the best of the American spirit. They put themselves on the line for our shared values — for duty, honor country — and they paid the ultimate price. Our nation can never fully repay the debt we owe to our fallen heroes and their families.”

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.

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