Attempts to reduce homelessness among veterans will be the focus of Memorial Day observances planned for Brentwood and El Monte on Monday, while Mayor Eric Garcetti will participate in three events, including a parade in Canoga Park.
The fourth annual Walk for Warriors at the West Los Angeles VA Campus in Brentwood will begin at 8 a.m. The 5-kilometer walk raises funds for New Directions for Veterans, which provides services to hundreds of homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness, including transitional and permanent housing, individual and group therapy, help in finding jobs and legal assistance.
Several thousand people are expected at the Los Angeles National Cemetery for its Memorial Day Observance Ceremony, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 23 Noon.
The speakers include 96-year-old former Army Lt. Yoshito Fujimoto who translated the World War II surrender document signed aboard the USS Missouri by Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. Fujimoto was not allowed to be on the USS Missouri for the signing and has not been previously recognized by the U.S. military, according to organizers.
In his weekly radio address, President Barack Obama said, “I hope all Americans will take a moment this weekend to think of those who have died in service to our nation.”
“Say a prayer in their memories and for their families,” Obama said. “Lay a flower where they’ve come to rest. Reach out to service members, military families or veterans in your community or families who have lost loved ones and let them know that their service will never be forgotten.”
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.