By Dennis J. Freeman
INGLEWOOD — City officials and other dignitaries paid homage to U.S. servicemen and women during the city’s 70th annual Memorial Day Service, which took place at the Inglewood War Memorial just a few feet away from City Hall May 28.
According to the Inglewood War Memorial Committee, which sponsors the annual event, there are 255 Gold Star Service members with their names inscribed on the complimentary pillars next to the 16-foot centered statue. The entire Inglewood City Council was present during the mid-morning service as were U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, state Sen. Steve Bradford and Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.
“This day is not a day of being off, it’s not about a day of barbecue,” Bradford said. “It’s not even about a basketball game. It’s about remembering those folks who made the ultimate sacrifice and remembering what that sacrifice is about.
“It is not about that flag, but what that flag represents: the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom to love who you choose to love in this country, and yes, the freedom to protest, even if that protest means [going down] on one knee.”
The speakers paraded to the podium, speaking on the importance of honoring the men and women who have lost their lives in protecting the country’s many freedoms.
Burke, the daughter of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, paid homage to those who have served this country and to the many individuals fallen in combat.
“Today is a day that we remember the men and women who gave their lives to provide a free and democratic society, and our freedoms are so tied to our identities that as Americans, sometimes we take them for granted,” Burke said. “Today has really proven that today is not that day. Seeing you today … I am reminded that we as elected [officials], to actually bask in the light of our veterans. You have allowed us to fight for the voices for the voiceless and we do that after you have done it yourself. So it is incumbent upon me to just say thank you.”
Toward the end of the hour and a half ceremony, the placement of flowers on the memorial was done by members of the Jackie Robinson American Legion Post 252 Ladies Auxiliary Color Guard.
Before the closing of the ceremony, U.S. Vets-Inglewood Executive Director Akilah Templeton gave a speech about the sacrifices men and women have made.
“We are here to pay tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and service to this country,” Templeton said. “We honor and salute our brave men and women for offering up the ultimate expression of love, for there is no greater love than this that a person might lay down his life for the sake of his friend. Today, we say thank you, we appreciate you. We acknowledge that the ideas and principles that we hold so dear could not be realized without you.
“We know that freedom and democracy come at a price, and that many paid the ultimate price to preserve and protect our way of life,” Templeton added. “The men and women currently serving and those who have served in the armed forces are familiar with sacrifice. … Many are injured and wounded. Some have sacrificed their mental health because of the trauma that they have experienced in conflict. Many have lost their families as a result, and many have been changed forever.”