Santa Monica Remembers Our Veterans

Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, is a day to remember those who have fallen while fighting to protect our freedom. It is also a day that is overlooked by many said Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer, “So many people take Memorial Day for granted, and they think it’s just a day off. It’s important that we’re here to acknowledge the real meaning of Memorial Day, which is to know those who served their country and died in that cause.”

The sky was gloomy and there was a slight breeze. Woodlawn Cemetery hosted its 79th Annual Memorial Day Observance. Flags filled the grounds and moved with the slight breeze. As people made their way to the event area, they exchanged pleasantries and stories of where they served and why they attended the event. Jere Romano, SMC’s Police Sergeant and third generation Marine, said, “Remembering and acknowledging that a lot of the freedoms that we enjoy, the privileges we enjoy, are because of the men and women, ... all of our Armed Forces historically you know that have sacri ced their lives ... so that we could live free."

The event, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., was packed full of performances from various groups including the John Adams Middle School Choir and the Santa Monica Oceanaires. Paul Salvo, Co-Principal Trumpet of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, played Military Taps. His trumpet filled the atmosphere. During the performance, a humble and solemn mood froze the crowd. Sergeant Romano also gave a very heartwarming speech.

SMC students were present at the event handing out programs and informing the event’s attendees. Ben Kamara, a member of SMC’s Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, said, “I chose this event [to volunteer at] because I’m very patriotic. It was a great opportunity to help out around the community and really help the veterans and help the American people.”

Though it is a day to remember those who lost their lives fighting for their country, it is completely somber. Sergeant Romano said, “Jokes, smiles and laughter will help me and other veterans who have lost friends and family to remember, not that they are gone, but to remember the great times we shared together.”

During the event, they scheduled a roll call and invited the veterans to come to the front and say a few words. All the different parts of our military were represented: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. Jaime Gallo, former commissioner for the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, emceed the event and emphasized that, “It’s important to get a face to the men and women who served.”

After the event finished with a bagpipe performance, many veterans stayed and talked to their fellow brothers in arms as the sun began to peek through the clouds at the perfect moment. Cindy Tomlinson, CemeteryAdministrator, said, “This was most successful Memorial Day in the five years I’ve been here we had I’m very pleased. . . the feeling of patriotism [was here] when looking around, some of them are crying.”

This event brought members of the community together to remember those we have lost. “To see that there are still so many, you know, Patriots, ... to come out and honor and respect those that have given up their lives, it was very moving,” said Sergeant Romano.