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Memorial Day celebrated in the Southland

May 30, 2011 12:53:32 AM PDT
Southern California residents took part in Memorial Day events to honor members of America's military who died fighting for our country.

In Boyle Heights, Memorial Day was commemorated with a 24-hour vigil at the All Wars Memorial to honor the men and women who fought and died for the United States.

Stephanie Stone, a U.S. Navy veteran and member of the L.A. Veteran Advisory Commission, was one of many people who helped keep watch.

"There are so many men and women who have given their all and the ultimate sacrifice to this country. It's only a few minutes out of my life to pay back and remember them," she said.

Stone said she comes from a military family with a long tradition with service to the country.

"I'm just one of the last generations. We'll see if my son also will join," she said.

Thousands of motorcyclists roared through the Riverside National Cemetery as part of the annual West Coast Thunder Event. Organizers say this year's West Coast Thunder ride is a far cry from its first year.

"We got a dozen people together, and we started talking and we said, 'Let's get something organized.' And we had no idea 12 years ago, it would involve something like this," said organizer Kris Robbins.

Organizers say at least 7,000 bikes are a part of the ride, and each of them are adorned with an American flags.

"You can pick anyone out of the crowd and just have a conversation with them, and we're just connected with them, and the camaraderie is really there," said Iraq war veteran Dan Montano.

In La Canada Flintridge, the Fiesta Days Parade began with a flyover of a military jet and featured classic cars, fire trucks and many local veterans.

Before the parade, a ceremony was held to honor about two dozen local heroes who served in World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ceremony was designed to teach younger generations about the significance of the holiday. Children read letters written by soldiers killed in combat.

"This is a very patriotic community, and it's shown. And this is a blessing," said Walter Martin, a Vietnam War veteran.

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