Annual Memorial Day Ceremony to honor fallen heroes

A flag flies over Eternal Valley in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

They died serving this country. And hundreds of people are expected to come and remember those fallen heroes this Memorial Day at Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary. 

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday at the Eternal Valley cemetery on North Sierra Highway in Newhall, Santa Clarita Valley Veterans Memorial Inc., and Eternal Valley invite the public to Santa Clarita Valley’s Annual Memorial Day Ceremony to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. military. 

According to Bob Kellar, president of the SCV Memorial Day Committee and a U.S. Army veteran, the event will include a keynote address from Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, a Condor Squadron flyby, a performance by the Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band and a presentation of the Medal of Honor to someone who was in the military who distinguished himself by acts of valor. 

“One of our board members will be recognizing an individual that he knew in high school who subsequently was a Medal of Honor recipient during Vietnam and lost his life,” Kellar told The Signal. 

The former Santa Clarita city councilman and mayor said he anticipates about 700 to 800 people to show. He added that the main event will take place in the upper area of the cemetery near the main building, but that Eternal Valley plans to offer golf cart rides to assist guests up and back down the hill. Parking for the event will be allowed throughout the cemetery. 

Kellar said the cemetery will be covered with a sea of flags. 

“On Saturday morning, starting at about 8:30 in the morning,” Kellar continued, “Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts — various troops from around Santa Clarita Valley — will be coming to the cemetery, and they help in placing American flags on all of the grave sites of veterans in Eternal Valley.” 

Kellar expects Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony to be about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes long. He’s particularly eager to hear the keynote speech from Garcia, a decorated U.S. Naval officer. 

“He’s spoken before at our Memorial Day program,” Kellar said. “And he’s the first one I have ever seen — two years ago — who got a stand-up ovation.” 

Then there’s the Condor Squadron out of Van Nuys Airport, made up of World War II North American AT-6 airplanes, which is set to fly overhead in formation as part of the ceremony. 

“They usually have two passes,” Kellar said, “and then they come back with the missing-man formation.” 

One of the last items of the ceremony agenda, Kellar continued, is the reading of the names inscribed on Eternal Valley’s Veterans Memorial Wall. 

“There are in excess of a thousand names on that wall now,” Kellar said. “The criteria to be on that wall is that you must’ve been a veteran and you have passed away.” 

Those whose names have been inscribed on that wall, he added, aren’t necessarily buried at Eternal Valley, but could’ve simply been residents of the area at one time or another. 

Kellar reminds people that SCV’s Annual Memorial Day Ceremony is not just for veterans. It’s for everyone, even kids, to recognize what these fallen heroes gave for their country. 

“It’s all about America,” Kellar said. “And our veterans.” 

For more information about the event, call Eternal Valley at 661-259-0800. Anyone interested in submitting a name for the Eternal Valley Veteran Memorial Wall can call Fred Gruchalla at 818-419-8955. 

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