Memorial Day in Orange County

I was surprised by how little I knew about Memorial Day when I began to look for information about it. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this holiday:

“It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War.”

“After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.”

“According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic.”

Memorial Day is especially poignant this year given the sheer number of U.S. soldiers who are actively engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other U.S. bases throughout Europe and Asia.

Memorial Day will be commemorated in Orange County at various venues on Monday. Here are a few highlights:

Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen will speak on the theme “Lest we Forget,” on Monday, at 10 a.m., at a Memorial Day Service held at the Soldier’s Monument, located at 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave., at the Santa Ana Cemetery. Longtime Santa Ana community activist Florence Leach will serve as the M.C. and there will be a choir and flag raising, and Grau’s recitation of the poem “Flander’s Field.” Admission is free.

Another local tribute is the Fairhaven Memorial Park’s 15th Annual Memorial Day Service. The memorial service is entitled “A Tribute to America’s Finest.”

This year’s service will feature a keynote address from Brigadier General David Shooter, USMC Ret., and a special tribute to Lt. Col. Tom Wall given by Col. Jim Ritchie, USMC Ret. There will also be special appearances from California Assemblyman Jose Solorio, the mayor of Orange Caroline Chaviche and Santa Ana City Council’s Carlos Bustamonte, Michele Martinez, David Benavides, Vincent Sarmiento and Sal Tinajero.

The service will also include the Aaron Thomas Jazz Band, a fly-over by the Planes of Fame, Memorial Flights, Naval Sea Cadet, Boy Scouts of America, a 21-gun salute and the signature releasing of the doves. Exhibits will include Santa Ana’s Fire Engine #10, American war photo essays and classic and antique cars.

While at the park, enjoy a complimentary hot dog and refreshments, and participate in a raffle for prizes. The program will close with a grand finale of simulated fireworks. Price: All events, exhibits and refreshments are free. Phone: 714-337-8133.

Memorial Day Ceremony in Anaheim. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3173 and the American Legion Post 72 is sponsoring a Memorial Day observance and barbecue on Monday, at 11 a.m. The observance will include a flag presentation by the American Legion. VFW members and a local Boy Scout troop will plan to put up white crosses, poppies and flags at the graves of veterans the day before Memorial Day. The free barbecue begins at 1 p.m. at the VFW location at 805 E. Sycamore St. Located at Anaheim Cemetery, at 1400 E. Sycamore Street, Anaheim. For information call: 714-533-3173.

Memorial Day Ceremony – Irvine, on Monday, May 28, 2007, at 10 am., at Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park. Join the City of Irvine in paying tribute to our nation

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