This Memorial Day celebration was a little different for us this year but it truly special.
We generally honor our veterans at Riverside National Cemetery. That's where both our mom and our dad are buried. This year we decided to take our observance to Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. They had the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall displayed and we had many close friends’ names to locate on it. The grounds were completely decorated with flowers and flags on every gravesite, placed by the Boy Scouts of America.
The Patriot Guard Riders opened the procession with motorcycles followed by the Cabar Feide Bag Pipe Band. Congressman Ted Lieu welcomed everyone and then we had a presentation of colors. It was very moving.
Next there was The Fallen Soldier Tribute. The flags were raised and we pledged allegiance. We sang the national anthem and many dignitaries and VIP speakers were introduced and gave heartfelt tributes.
There was a very impressive aerial presentation of colors where the 21st Century Skydiving team jumped from their planes and each man was caring a flag representing a different branch of service. It was amazing watching them steer their way down and land right in the middle of our celebration.
The Palos Verde's Symphonic Band did a salute to each branch. We were told to stand when were heard the hymn of our family member’s service. I'm very proud to say that we stood honoring our immediate family members service in the Marines, the Air Force, the Army and the Navy. They even honored the service of our fire and and police departments. I once again got to stand. I was very proud.
The benediction was given and then there was a 21-gun salute. Taps were played which has always been a very emotional moment for us because it takes us right back to our father’s funeral.
The bag pipe band played “Amazing Grace” and dozens of white doves were released. They circled round and round above our heads. I'm happy to say they were all on good behavior. No bombs were dropped.
We had fly overs by the C-17 Globe master out of March Air Force Base, the CJ-A Tiger Squadron, the P51 Mustang and the North American SNJ-5 "War Dog." They performed the "Missing Man Formation." It was absolutely stunning.
The ceremony ended with 5,000 of us singing "God Bless America.”
Our hearts were filled on that day with the complete dedication and devotion of our men and women in service. Our hearts remain full!
Gail Earl is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.