Remembering the fallen for Memorial Day

For many people across the nation, Memorial Day weekend calls for barbeques, discounts, getaways with the family, and of course the summer kick off parties at the Jersey Shore. Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day 150 years ago, is our day set aside to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price serving in the country's armed forces.

Decoration Day, proclaimed by General John Logan in his 1868 General Order No. 11, was originally set to honor union soldiers until the end of World War I when it was changed to honor all those who died in any war. The official holiday Memorial Day was first recognized by the state of New York in 1873 and is now of course nationwide, although a few southern states like Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee have their separate holidays to honor the deaths of Confederate soldiers.

Santa Monica College Veterans Center held a Memorial Day service Thursday, May 21 in the quad area with special guest speaker, World War II veteran Walter Bodlander. Bodlander, introduced by SVA President Jennifer Garcia, shared his story on how he moved from place to place after the Nazis invaded his country before getting a Visa from the United States. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bodlander volunteered for the armed services and was immediately sent to England. The war for him started with the landing on D-Day and ended in Normandy where he was wounded after fighting for 11 months.

Garcia introduced others to speak including Iraqi war veteran Anthony Bibian, who shared his personal story and SVA Vice President Jaime Rincon, who held the POW/MIA (prisoner of war/missing in action) ceremony. The memorial event was a start to a long weekend of memorial services held around the city of Los Angeles. Other venues included the national cemetery on Wilshire Blvd., Woodlawn Cemetery, Arlington National West (which holds memorials every Sunday on Santa Monica Beach next to the pier) and many others.

“We should honor our fallen heroes everyday, not just once a year,” said Garcia. “We should live in their honor everyday by being grateful and honorable Americans.”