The memorial to those Azusans killed in action just after new wreaths were laid by family members participating in today’s Memorial Day ceremony at Azusa City Hall.
Today’s Memorial Day ceremony in Azusa was one of the best i’ve ever attended. There were no politicians. No grandstanding. But there were heartfelt speeches from military personnel and powerful prayers from clergy There was even a touching poem read and a rendition of “God Bless America” sung.
I was moved by Sgt. First Class Martin Salazar’s closing remarks. He is the person who knocks on the door of loved ones to tell them their soldier died in battle. He spoke Monday of how he recently had to deliver the news to a family in La Puente. Though he didn’t say, I believe he was speaking about Army Staff Sgt. Esau Ivan De La Pena-Hernandez who was killed in Afghanistan last week (see Opinions, Our View, “We pray, we grieve, May 25). He said we usually thank the veterans, the soldiers on active duty for serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and that’s all well and good. But he wanted to thank the families of our troops. I second that. For almost 5,000, they are living with the loss of loved ones who fought bravely and gave their lives for us.
Also in Azusa today were the parents of Leroy Harris Kelly III. Harris Kelley was one of two soldiers from Azusa to be killed in the Iraq War. His parents laid the wreath at the memorial for all the soldiers who fought and gave their lives in the Iraq War. The other soldier killed in Iraq was Azusan Elias George Elias.
I went today because my father used to take me to Memorial Day ceremonies when I was a kid. He didn’t speak about how he fought the Nazis during World War II and was wounded (nearly killed) during his tour of duty. He would just listen to the speeches and the prayers. He’d let them do the talking.
The Azusa ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute. And a charge from Colonel Keith Bushey of Duarte and Salazar to go out and enjoy the day. America has earned it.
John Moreno kicks off the Azusa Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning.