The honorable memories

After the Memorial Day tribute concluded at the Downey Cemetery on May 27, Anthony Munoz puts up a peace sign as he kneels by the grave of his uncle, Gabino Munoz, to remember and acknowledge his legacy. Gabino Munoz was wounded in action in Germany during WWII, and received a Purple Heart.

Mia Dixon-Slaughter, Co-Editor-in-Cheif

On Memorial Day a morning memorial day tribute was held at the Downey cemetery where local citizens and war veterans came to honor those who passed defending this country.

The ceremony opened with attendees rising for the Pledge of Allegiance and was followed by a small speech about the history of the Memorial Day Tribute by Diane Boggs, the head of the cemetery board.

The tribute was started by a group called American Legions—a large organization of war veterans. They would come to the cemetery and construct their own ceremony to commemorate the lost veterans. After wanting to make this cemetery an official tribute they went to the cemetery board with the idea and together they formed the Memorial Day Tribute that has now been going on for over 20 years.

Boggs explained that this memorial service is an important tradition which is why the cemetery board continues to carry on this service.

“I think sometimes we forget how we get to be who we are in this country,” Boggs said. “That’s why we like to keep tradition going.”

A part of the tradition of the ceremony is to have local members of the American Legion come up to speak.  The veterans gave poignant speeches on their pride they have for their nation. The speeches ranged from poems about American honor to war stories about invading Japan.

Ken Drake, an American Legion member, spoke a little bit about his achievements in the war to the crowd and how he enjoyed being at the service.

“I’ve put 33 years in the Navy,” Drake said. “I received an award from President Bush for having the most community service hours in the west and that makes me proud to be here for my country.”

The citizens who attended the tribute were there to honor their loved ones who are either currently in the military or have served in the military in the past, making the ceremony an emotional event for all.

Karen Rodriguez, a citizen of Downey, attended the Memorial Day Tribute to recognize the veterans and also the men and women still in the army today, one of those being her son.

“I really wanted to come to honor these men who risk their lives for our freedom,” Rodriguez said, “and because I have a son in the Army right now, it definitely helps me realize how important this day is.”

The Memorial Day Tribute ended with a rifle salute and taps by trumpeters scattered around the cemetery. The audience rose and applauded to honor the war veterans as they took the stage once more in their military uniforms.

Memorial Day Tribute allows men and women to gather around the white crosses planted at the veterans’ grave stones to recognize those who fought for the freedom of America. The tradition will continue to be held to celebrate the brave men and women who built the foundation of the United States.