After being curtailed the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, in-person Memorial Day observances will be held throughout Los Angeles County Monday, including Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes where a Medal of Honor recipient will deliver the keynote speech.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Sammy L. Davis, then a 21- year-old private first class, was a cannoneer with Battery C, at a Firebase Cudgil, a remote fire support base west of Cai Lay, South Vietnam. At approximately 2 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1967, the fire support base was under heavy enemy mortar attack. Simultaneously, a reinforced Viet Cong battalion launched a fierce ground assault upon the fire support base.
The attacking enemy drove to within 25 meters of the friendly positions. Only a river separated the Viet Cong from the fire support base. Detecting a nearby enemy position, Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his gun crew, as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy.
Despite his efforts, an enemy recoilless-rifle round scored a direct hit upon the artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the gun crew from their weapon and blew Davis into a foxhole. He struggled to his feet and returned to the howitzer, which was burning furiously. Ignoring repeated warnings to seek cover, Davis rammed a shell into the gun.
Disregarding a withering hail of enemy fire directed against his position, he aimed and fired the howitzer which rolled backward, knocking Davis violently to the ground. Undaunted, he returned to the weapon to fire again when an enemy mortar round exploded within 20 meters of his position, injuring him painfully.
Nevertheless, Davis loaded the artillery piece, aimed, and fired. Again he was knocked down by the recoil. In complete disregard for his safety, Davis loaded and fired three more shells into the enemy. Disregarding his extensive injuries and his inability to swim, Davis picked up an air mattress and struck out across the deep river to rescue three wounded comrades on the far side.
Upon reaching the three wounded men, he stood upright and fired into the dense vegetation to prevent the Viet Cong from advancing. While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, Davis protected the two remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base.
Though suffering from painful wounds, he refused medical attention, joining another howitzer crew which fired at the large Viet Cong force until it broke contact and fled.
The observance will begin at 10 a.m.
Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier will conduct its 100th annual Memorial Day Observance and first since 2019.
There will be family activities, a military display, remembrance trees and a photo display available for viewing from 10-11 a.m. The hourlong program will begin at 11 a.m. and featuring a vintage aircraft flyover, performances and a keynote address by Brig. Gen. Andre N. Coulombe, the deputy commanding general, Civil Support, 40th Infantry Division.
Observances at 9 a.m. at Whittier City Hall and 10 a.m. at the Veterans Monument in Pico Rivera will include Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn discussing suicide among veterans.
A ceremony at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood will begin at 10 a.m.
The 75th annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Mexican American All Wars Monument at Cinco Puntos in Boyle Heights will begin at 11 a.m.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-San Pedro, will speak at the 11 a.m. ceremony at the Wilmington Historical Cemetery.
The names of the members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service since the 9/11 attacks will be read at the Honoring Our Fallen Memorial Wall remembrance gathering at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach which will begin at 5:30 a.m. with a special bagpiper tribute. The reading of the names will begin at 5:45 a.m. They will be ready by active-duty military, police and first responders.
Inglewood’s 73rd annual Memorial Day Service will begin at 11 a.m. at City Hall.
A Memorial Day Mass honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military will be celebrated at 10 a.m. at San Fernando Mission Cemetery and Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary in Mission Hills.
Palmdale’s Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the south field of Pelona Vista Park. The program will include opening remarks from Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, an invocation by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Perez and closing remarks by Councilman Juan Carrillo.
Glendale’s Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Veterans Memorial at City Hall.
Forest Lawn will conduct a virtual Memorial Day event on its Facebook page, facebook.com/forestlawn, which will include at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills will begin at 10 a.m. and include a keynote address, patriotic music, a wreath presentation and the reading of a presidential proclamation.
Burbank’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the McCambridge Park War Memorial and include a flyover by the Condor Squadron’s World War II training planes. A pre-ceremony concert will begin at 10:15 a.m.
El Monte’s Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. at Tony Arceo Memorial Park.
In his Memorial Day proclamation, President Joe Biden proclaimed Monday as a day of prayer for permanent peace, designating 11 a.m. in each time zone as a time during which people may unite in prayer, citing a 1950 joint resolution by Congress.
Biden also asked all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m. in each time zone under a bill signed into law in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton.
The Moment of Remembrance is a “way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day,” its founder Carmella LaSpada said.
Biden’s proclamation also requested governors of all U.S. states and territories and the appropriate officials of all units of government to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout nation and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control.
Biden also requested the American public to display the flag at half- staff from their homes until noon Monday.
“On Memorial Day, we remember the patriots who gave their lives in the service of America, in the service of freedom and in the service of justice,” Biden declared in his proclamation. “They made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our Constitution and our democracy. We are free because they were brave and we live by the light of the flame of liberty they kept burning.”
What became Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers.
It was established 25 days earlier by Maj. Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of veterans who fought for the Union in the Civil War. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the nation.
By the end of the 19th century, Decoration Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. After World War I, the holiday was changed to honor Americans who died fighting in all wars.
The term Memorial Day was first used in 1882, became more common after World War II and declared the official name by federal law in 1967.
Memorial Day had been observed on May 30, until being moved to the last Monday in May in 1971 under terms of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which became law in 1968.