BY JIM E. WINBURN
Sierra Madre’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3208 hosted a Memorial Day Observance for local Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in preserving this nation’s freedom.
Nearly 200 local area residents attended the observance ceremony at Sierra Madre Pioneer Cemetery on Monday.
David Loeru, commander of VFW Harry L. Embree Post 3208, presided over the event, telling this reporter how important it is to remember those Americans who paid for our freedoms with their lives.
“What it means to me is to never lose sight,” said Loeru. “And that is what VFW is all about: not to forget – not to forget the fallen.”
Sierra Madre’s Memorial Day services featured former Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray as the guest speaker.
MacGillivray pointed out the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, saying unlike Veterans Day, which is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans, Memorial Day is a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who selflessly gave of themselves to protect the liberties that our Founding Fathers claimed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
She said that social and political behavior today is quickly losing track of those values demonstrated by veterans who have served with commitment, self-reliance and selfless dedication.
“If we have learned anything from the wars in which we fight today, it’s that courage and sacrifice are not proprietary values that belong to a bygone generation,” she said. “(But) if we uphold the values for which they have fought, they will not have died in vain.”
MacGillivray told participants at the ceremony to remember that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press, and that it is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.
“And most importantly, it is the solider who salutes the flag, who serves the flag, and whose coffin is draped in the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag,” said MacGillivray, further reminding those present that it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “A country which does not honor its fallen will not long endure.”
After her speech, MacGillivray introduced individual members of VFW Post 3208 who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan and other theatres of war.
Sierra Madre city officials in attendance included Mayor Josh Moran, and council members Chris Koerber, John Harabedian, and John Capoccia. Rev. Dick Anderson offered the invocation, and Patrick and Mary Cronin provided music for the ceremony.
The VFW Post 3208 also performed a wreath-laying ceremony and a 21-gun salute with Taps played by Paul Puccinelli. After the ceremony, lunches and refreshments were provided by VFW Post 3208.
For more information on VFW Post 3208, please call (626) 355-7016.