The city of Burbank’s Memorial Day ceremony had all the pageantry that is due true heroes~ a Condor Flyover, U.S. Marine Corps color guard presentation and white dove release. Those who gave their lives for their country were remembered along with the families who are left behind.
By Joyce Rudolph
Local residents who made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country were remembered today at the city’s Memorial Day ceremony filled with all the pageantry due to true heroes. The Condor Squadron blazed across the blue sky over McCambridge Park. The U.S. Marine
Corps color guard presented the colors and Gino Gaudio sang the national anthem followed by the release of several white doves.
Chris Welker, a member of the Burbank Veterans Commemorative Committee, served as mistress of ceremonies as Mickey DePalo, chair of the committee, had flown home to Ohio to be with his family because his father, a World War II veteran, had passed away Saturday.
His father, Michael, a former Burbank resident, hadn’t talked about his military service when Mickey was a child, but began to share his experiences in letters to Mickey while he was serving in the Marines during the Vietnam War, Welker said.
“Mickey said his father sharing those experiences in the war helped him to come to terms with his experiences in the war,” she said.
The culminating segment of the day was a Ceremony of the Rose. The commemorative committee members took turns reading the names of those Burbank residents who died during all the wars. Councilman Gary Bric read the list of those who died in the Vietnam War, including his brother, William H. Bric III. Boy Scouts laid a rose for each one around the eternal flame.
“They gave their lives in exchange for ours,” Welker said. “All the brave men and women who died had hopes and dreams for when they returned, hopes and dreams that they put on hold so they
could protect our nation and people they would never meet like you and me.”
The ceremony was also a time to remember the family members left behind, Welker said.
“We hope this ceremony will help bring them some measure of peace,” she said.
Looking at the names listed of those who have died, Welker said, is a reminder that freedom comes at a very high cost.
“So today I would like to extend our love and respect to all veterans who have served our nation,” she said.
Keynote speaker Lt. Col. (Retired) John B. Lang, U.S. Marine Corps, talked about several men who lost their lives at war. One of those was Corporal Larry L. Maxam of Burbank who died in Vietnam in
1968. His mother and brother, Robin, went to Washington, D.C., in 1970 to receive his Medal of Honor.
“He manned a machine gun all alone for more than one hour and a half and was wounded repeatedly. His sacrifice saved the lives of dozens of men who surely would have been killed if the lines had not been held that night,” Lang said.
There is evil in the world, he said, but the men and women being remembered at the ceremony chose to step to the front of the pack and be the ones to face the challenge.
To honor those who have been lost, Lang said, we should get up every morning and live life with the same gusto these men did.
“Honor them by enjoying the gift they gave us ~ feel the sunshine, taste your food, laugh and love, cherish your loved ones and family,” he said “In short, remember that they gave all of the rest of their days so that you could have this day. It is a gift from them to us and like all gifts value it by using it well.”
Mayor Dave Golonski thanked the more than 700 people attending the event. “Today is a day when all of us reflect on the freedoms that we have and I don’t think anyone could have said it better than Lt. Col. John Lang, it is a time for us to reflect on that and a time for us to recognize the debt that we owe,” Golonski said.
In searching for the most significant words to use in his talk to thank the fallen members for the sacrifice they have made, Golonski said he could only come up with two.
“On behalf of our community, the families and those who made the ultimate sacrifice I’m here to say thank you.”