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Memorial Day observed in Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: May 27, 2013 1:27 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2013 1:27 p.m.

Girl Scout Daisy Melody Canton, 6, places American flags on grave markers. Photo by Jonathan Pobre.

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Amid the rows of those honoring veterans, near the flags ceremonially placed by Girl Scouts near the stars and stripes held to half mast in honor of Memorial Day 2013, it was easy to overlook a slight man in a crisp olive-green outfit quietly listening to praise for people in uniforms like his own.

He’s heard the same praise for more than half a century, he said, but it never gets old.

Private Tony Marincola, 96, of the 17th Airborne unit during the Second World War smiled when asked about Monday’s Memorial Day Tribute 2013 ceremonies atop a hill at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary.
“It’s tremendous,” he said, loud and proud.

“It’s the best one I’ve been to — and I’ve been to them all.”

After the overhead “World War II at 6 Aircraft Flyover” by pilots of the Condor Squadron and the last minute attendance of two parachutists, the speeches began honoring those who served their country.

An estimated 10,000 veterans live in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to one of Monday’s speakers.

This year, event organizers paid particular attention to veterans who never came home.

Missing in action
Santa Clarita Valley’s Memorial Day 2013 was in special honor of veterans listed by the Department of Defence as missing in action or prisoners of war.

To that end, the Santa Clarita Valley Veterans Memorial Committee set up a symbolic “table for one” near this year’s podium to represent those listed as missing and unable to attend events such the one Monday.

“Since 1886, Americans have come together in communities like ours to lay flowers and raise flags and praise those who gave their lives for our country,” said guest speaker Ken Striplin, Santa Clarita’s city manager.

Striplin told the more than 300 attendees that, according to the military, more than 83,000 Americans are still missing in action since the second World War.

“Our prayers are for their success in bringing home every one of those heroes,” Striplin said.

More each year
Retired U.S. Navy Quartermaster Senior Chief Petty Officer Duane Harte told the assembled group: “I am so proud to see more and more people attending this every year.

“I say, ‘Thank you,’ for honoring them with your time here today.”

Harte said it was nice to see Vietnam War veterans honored “by a change of attitude” demonstrated by attendees.

And, in keeping with this year’s theme honoring MIA personnel, he urged everyone to get a bright yellow wristband in honor of US Army SPC Bowe Bergdahl who was taken prisoner in Afghanistan June 30, 2009.
A quick survey of attendees showed many already wearing the wristband.

They included:

- the four young “4 Harts” women who sang the National Anthem — Madison Frisch, Marissa Munter, Lindsay Ryan and Molly Ryan.

- Pam Hogan, who presented and explained the “POW/MIA table.”

- Stephanie Cate, the Gold Award Girl Scout, who led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

- Pastor Melissa MacKinnon of the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church who led the group in prayer.

- Bag piper Chelsea Joy Wells who closed the ceremonies.

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