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Veterans honored for service to country

May 25, 2009 12:42:07 PM PDT
Thousands gathered in Palos Verdes for one of the largest observances in Southern California on Memorial Day.It was the 24th year of the observance at Green Hills Memorial Park, and this year, the Air Force had the spotlight, putting on several aerial spectacles for the crowd.

Veterans at the Palos Verdes ceremony shared their stories of serving the country.

"I got shot down July 2nd of '43 on my 30th mission. So I spent two years in Italian and German prison camps," said World War II veteran Dave Cockman.

Showing their colors and their skills, several different units joined together for the service, including a pipe band, color guards from the U.S. Marine Corp, the Sheriff's Department and the ROTC, all to honor those who sacrificed their lives for the country.

"I've had people come up to me and thank me for being a veteran, and I've suddenly decided that I'm going to say thank you for being an American," said World War II veteran Thomas Pridham.

A special tribute will be offered for Newt Heisley, who designed the black flag representing POWs and MIAs.

Heisley was an Air Force pilot in World War II. He used his artistic talents to design a flag that has since become an icon.

Heisley died one week ago at the age of 88, another veteran not to be forgotten.

Troops were also honored in an annual Memorial Day Parade in Canoga Park.

"We've brought the true embodiment of what Memorial Day is. It's about our troops. It's about those who have served to have us have the right to come out here and assemble and show our pride for what it is to be an American," said Bob Bishop, Canoga Park Chamber of Commerce.

Participant Sal Lopez said he makes it a point to always be grateful to those who serve.

"Freedom is at a high cost, and we should recognize that," he said.

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