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Local Youth to Lead Memorial Day Service  

The Memorial Service to be held on Monday, May 29, will remember those who have died during military service and underpins the patriotic dedication for Fiesta Days celebration, organizers and residents long have said.

The reflective ceremony, to be held at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day at the gazebo in La Cañada Flintridge’s Memorial Park, will include a military style flag ceremony, recitations and children in key speaking and singing roles. All local veterans are invited to participate and speak at the service.

The ceremony will be held before the parade, which commences at 10:30 a.m. and travels down Foothill Boulevard, starting at Cornishon Avenue and ending at Gould Avenue.

The memorial event typically centers on those who died in combat, are missing in action or are prisoners of war, said Joe Puglia, a former local Marine who has been organizing the city’s annual Memorial Day service for about 18 years — even through the pandemic.  

“I was in the Marines during the Vietnam War and made a commitment never to forget the fallen… When I left Vietnam, I made a silent promise to those who didn’t come home: I would not forget their sacrifice,” Puglia said. “Thus, I honor that promise. The commemoration is driven by children who, as the next generation, will carry the commitment of Memorial Day.”

He encourages all veterans to attend the ceremony where they will be honored for their service. 

Puglia, a former columnist for the Valley Sun newspaper, previously cited Plato’s “Republic” to help relate the importance of the holiday: “It is our responsibility to carry on the traditions of Memorial Day and honor the sacrifices made on our behalf,” he wrote. “We are the link between the present and the future. Attending the ceremony, carrying the flag, raising the flag, and listening to the names of the fallen are concrete experiences that bridge the gap between the abstract and an understanding of why this is significant. Continued exposure to these concrete experiences such as the Memorial Day Commemoration will help build a virtuous society.”

Don Hingst, a former principal at La Cañada Elementary School and Palm Crest Elementary School who has now passed away, organized the event for decades until he passed on the responsibilities to Puglia.

Puglia has organized a ceremony this year that will begin with the Commemoration Team and assisted by the Daughters of the Revolution. The 48-star flag which flew over the Northern gun battery at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, will be visible for all to see.

There will be a master of ceremonies, a singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, followed by readings of poignant passages. The team commemorates all Americans who paid the ultimate price serving their country.

Participants also will include the City Council, Chamber of Commerce, La Cañada High School Marching Band, LCHS Choral Singers, Blair High School JROTC, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and many other volunteers dedicated to providing a meaningful and somber ceremony which showcases the community’s appreciation for those who served and did not return.   


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