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Coliseum hosts county Veterans Day observance

LOS ANGELES — Veterans Day was observed in a ceremony outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Nov. 11 in what county officials hope will become an annual event.

It was one of many observances that paid tribute to veterans of the U.S. military held throughout Los Angeles County.

The inaugural Veterans Day LA included a veterans resource fair, live musical performances, aerial demonstrations, food trucks and previews of upcoming films. The formal program included speeches by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

The Coliseum’s torch was lit at 11 a.m. to mark the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” when World War I ended in 1918.

Gabbard, a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, joined Hahn in the successful effort to cancel plans to rebrand the Coliseum as the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum as part of a $69 million naming-rights agreement to help fund the $270 million renovation of the stadium, which opened in 1923.

 The event was inspired by the lighting of the Coliseum’s torch on June 6 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Liz Odendahl, Hahn’s communications director, told City News Service.

“[Hahn] thinks that the Coliseum is an incredible memorial to veterans that we should use more often for that purpose,” Odendahl said.

The Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to Los Angeles veterans of World War I. It was re-dedicated to all veterans in 1968.

“Veterans Day LA is an opportunity for all of us to show our gratitude for our nation’s heroes and recommit to ensuring these men and women can thrive when they return home,” said Hahn, the event’s chair.

Other events marking Veterans Day were held in Carson, West Hollywood, El Sereno, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Downey and the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

A Veterans Day celebration and film festival also was held on the Battleship Iowa, which is docked at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.

The festival included screenings of the documentary “The Last Signal” about two veterans who served aboard the same ship in World War II reuniting in 2015 for the first time after the war. 

There also were family-friendly activities on the ship’s fantail, including mural painting. Ship tours were being offered at regular admission rates.

The 60th annual Veterans Day event at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills included a flyover, patriotic music, a rifle salute by the Los Angeles Police Department Honor Guard and a wreath-laying. An interactive historic military artifact display, face-painting, arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities also were offered.

Carson held its Veterans Day celebration at Veterans Park, including patriotic music, veterans information booths and ROTC and cheerleader presentations.

Veterans Day ceremonies also were held at the Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial on Santa Monica Boulevard at Holloway Drive in West Hollywood and on the median at Van Horne Avenue and Huntington Drive in El Sereno.

Veterans Day has its roots in a proclamation issued by President Woodrow Wilson in November 1919, a year after World War I ended, designating Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. States soon started declaring Nov. 11 a legal holiday. Congress made it a federal holiday in 1938, dedicated to the cause of world peace.

In 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress, at the urging of veterans service organizations, passed a law renaming Armistice Day Veterans Day. From 1971-1977, Veterans Day was held in late October. A 1975 law returned it to Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.

In his Veterans Day proclamation, President Donald Trump wrote, “On Nov. 11, Americans commemorate the service, sacrifice and immeasurable contributions of our nation’s veterans who have proudly worn our country’s uniform to defend and preserve our precious liberty.

“As we celebrate Veterans Day, we pause to recognize the brave men and women who have fearlessly and faithfully worked to defend the United States and our freedom.

“Their devotion to duty and patriotism deserves the respect and admiration of our grateful nation each and every day. We are forever thankful for the many heroes among us who have bravely fought around the world to protect us all.”

Wave Wire Services