It was less than three months ago that Specialist Rudy Acosta was killed in Afghanistan. The Santa Clarita native was just 19 years old when an Afghan security contractor walked onto base with an AK-47 and opened fire on nearly a dozen unarmed soldiers. Acosta was one of two servicemen who didn't survive.
"It's difficult because it's the first Memorial Day since Rudy was killed in action, and we just want to remember him and be here for the community, who's been here for us," said Rudy's father, Dante Acosta.
Hundreds showed up at Monday's memorial service in Newhall, not only remembering Acosta, but all the men and women who've served the country. At the front of the service, a row of pictures, putting faces with names of local soldiers who paid the ultimate price.
U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, was Monday's keynote speaker. Organizers said they're proud to offer families like the Acostas a place to gather to remember loved ones.
Applause was heard from beginning to end Monday morning, with families like Acosta's reminding what Memorial Day is all about.
"It has new meaning to me. Memorial Day, this is for me and our family, we will be here every year, and I miss my son, I couldn't be more proud of him. And I couldn't ask for anything more than for him to be a hero and to be with the Lord," said Rudy's mother, Caroline Acosta.