LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Memorial Day services are taking place across Southern California on Monday, with communities honoring fallen heroes who protected this country.
In Canoga Park, a Memorial Day parade took place after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The parade, going down Sherman Way, featured music, floats and a flyover.
Retired Col. Steve Hartman spoke to Eyewitness News about getting the parade back up and running.
"It took an enormous amount of work to put it together," said Hartman. "From what you are seeing today, months and months of effort on the part of a committee. I'm actually on the committee."
Hartman said that people on Memorial Day should think about the fallen heroes who defended this country.
"Sometimes people get confused between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Veterans Day is for those who served. Memorial Day is for those who have fallen in the line of duty serving this great nation. And we have to always remember the fallen, and that's what Memorial Day is all about," he said.
And Hartman's message to kids is he wants them to take this holiday to learn what it means to be an American.
"I want the kids to know what it means to be an American. I work in public education, and we need to understand what it means to be an American, " said Hartman. "That goes back to civics and to be what a U.S. citizen is. An American citizen has the rights and privileges that those that have fallen for us have sacrificed so we can enjoy those freedoms. And we need to pass that on to the next generation."
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also spoke at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, where she recognized fallen heroes there in the first public event for Memorial Day since 2019. All branches of the military, civil war reenactors and music from the 300th Army band.
The event took place at a new part of the Los Angeles National Cemetery just west of the 405.
One veteran who spoke to Eyewitness News said that he commemorates Memorial Day to remind people of how fragile freedom is. He encourages everyone to be more playful, enjoy life more and don't take yourself too seriously.
An event in Long Beach Monday morning at Rosie the Riveter Park also took place, where there is an annual reading of the names at the Honoring Our Fallen Memorial Wall. Gold star families, active-duty military personnel, first responders and veterans read the names of those who have fallen in combat post-9/11.
And, in Mission Hills, Archbishop José Gómez presided over a special outdoor mass at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.