Troops, veterans mark Memorial Day

Forces, forebears honored in somber commemoration at the Pacific View Memorial Park.

May 30, 2006|By Dave Brooks

An ever-present sun shined down on a somber Memorial Day commemoration yesterday at the Pacific View Memorial Park.

Hundreds of visitors gathered to pay tribute to those who died serving in the U.S. military and to honor troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While anti-war protesters held demonstrations at some Memorial Day events across the country, Monday's Newport Beach service was free of any demonstrators.


"Politics should end at the entrance of this serene resting place," Brigadier General Ronald B. Flynn told the audience, many of whom came dressed in red, white and blue and watched the ceremony at the bottom of a small hill. Many brought small flags and flowers to honor their dead.

Veterans from the American Legion Post 291 led a flag honor guard and presented flowers, wreaths and other dedications to the graves of American soldiers killed in the line of duty. Michael Brigandi read "General Order No. 11" written in 1868 by John Logan creating the Memorial Day holiday that had previously been called Decoration Day. U.S. Navy Reserve John Guyton read the audience a copy of "Old Glory," a popular literary dedication to the American flag.

The day also brought tributes to men and women of Orange County who died fighting in Iraq.

"We are a nation at war and we will see more graves for our comrades serving in Iraq," Flynn said, recalling the story of Justin Pollard, 21, a Foothill Ranch man who joined the Army after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He was killed in December 2003 in a non-combat related accident.

"When you have to go to parents and thank them for the life of their son lost while defending our country, it's like touching the face of god," he said.

After the ceremony, dozens of families placed flowers on the graves of family members buried at Pacific View Memorial. Kathleen Ashton brought her daughter Summer, 6, to leave flowers for Kathleen's grandfather, who had served in World War II and the Korean War.

"This is a chance to teach her about patriotism and her family," she said. "I think it's the right time to show her what her great-grandfather did for this country and what he believed in," she said.

Sisters Thalia and Ana Rodriguez said they planned to visit another cemetery after the event to pay tribute to their brother Arthur Rodriguez, who died fighting in Iraq about 18 months ago.

"It's still hurts us to this day, it's been very hard for our family," Thalia Rodriguez said. "We came here to pay tribute to our brother and honor his memory. I plan to spend every Memorial day remembering him and what a great person he was."dpt-30-mem1-dl-BPhotoInfoDV1RF2R920060530j01xh2ncDON LEACH / DAILY PILOT(LA)Storm Foley, 13, adds a yellow rose to the resting place of her grandfather, a World War II Marine Corp veteran, following a Memorial Day commemoration at Pacific View Memorial Park. dpt-30-mem2-dl-CPhotoInfoDV1RF2RC20060530j01xh6ncDON LEACH / DAILY PILOT(LA)Dolly Cullers, left, is joined by daughter Christy Littleford and grandchildren Jenny and Josh as they add flowers and plant flags at the site of Dolly's husband, veteran John Harvery Cullers.

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