Nearly 100 people gathered at Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries in Long Beach Monday morning, remembering those who died while serving the country’s armed services.
The cemetery’s annual Memorial Day celebration included a memorial march featuring the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, a reading of the Gettysburg Address, the placement of memorial wreaths and musical performances by The Band of the California Battalion and the 42nd Highlanders Regimental Pipes & Drums.
The Long Beach Police Department Honor Guard also conducted a Rifle Salute and the playing of “Taps,” and City Councilman Roberto Uranga read the Presidential Proclamation.
MIlitary veterans of all ages and from all forces were noticeably scattered among the crowd.
Some stood out from the uniform they wore, others from the veterans caps on their heads, and still others distinguishable by their posture and devoted salute to the American flag.
For Long Beach resident Susan Grau, the ceremony allowed her to reflect on her late father, a WWII veteran, and her brother, who fought in the Vietnam War.
“I just think that sometimes people don’t observe the military like they should on these holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” said Grau, who has been attending the cemetery’s annual days of remembrances for about a decade.
“If people can't take a couple of hours out of their day, out of their year to honor these guys it’s really a shame.”
The ceremony featured an address by Sarah Sedlik, a clinical supervisor for the U.S. Vets’ Long Beach facility.
Sedlik highlighted not just the importance of providing services for military personnel but also providing help through friendship.
“Play dominoes, ask about their families, ask what they’ve been through,” Sedlik said.
“Certainly there is financial support, but give time to get to know people individually, because I think the connection with the community is what's missing sometimes when people come back,” added Sedlik.
All photos by Stephanie Rivera