Memorial Day Salute

An American flag planted in the Serbian United Benevolent Society Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Many traditional Memorial Day observances in Los Angeles -- on the ground and in the air -- will still be held today but on a virtual basis because spectators are barred due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 131st Memorial Day Celebration at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood will begin at 10 a.m. and be broadcast on KABC-TV Channel 7 and streamed on abc7.com. The station will use multiple cameras and drones to produce a broadcast of the featured guests' presentations, performances and dedications.

First District Councilman Gil Cedillo will join others at the Veteran's Square in Highland Park this afternoon to distribute 500 bags of produce to veterans at Veteran's Square at the corner of North Figueroa Street and York Boulevard.

In Culver City, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will celebrate a special Memorial Day Mass at 10 a.m. at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mortuary honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

The Mass will also include a tribute to those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic and have not had funeral Masses. The Mass will be livestreamed on CatholicCM.org and Facebook.com/lacatholics.

"Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, and it is also a day to keep alive the life and memory of so many men and women who unselfishly gave their lives for our country," Gomez said.

Forest Lawn will hold a live virtual celebration at 10 a.m. on its Facebook page, facebook.com/ForestLawn. It will include a special message from Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin, patriotic music and a Scottish bagpipes and drums performance by Harry Farrar.

Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Griffin Memorial Park Mortuary and Crematory in Westlake Village will present its 30th annual Memorial Day Program that will be streamed from 2:45-3:15 p.m. on its Facebook page, facebook.com/PierceBrosValleyOaks.

The program will include live music, a moment of silence, a flyover and an address by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jerry Knotts.

Memorial Day in Los Angeles County will also be marked by a flyover of an 18-plane formation of historic warbirds. The path of 70-90-minute flyover will take it over Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Boyle Heights.

What became Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the nation.

By the end of the 19th century, Decoration Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. After World War I, the holiday was changed to honor Americans who died fighting in all wars.

The term Memorial Day was first used in 1882, became more common after World War II and declared the official name by federal law in 1967.

Memorial Day had been observed on May 30, until being moved to the last Monday in May in 1971 under terms of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which became law in 1968.

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