The upcoming Memorial Day holiday is a great time for many to fire up their barbecues, jump in the pool and spend the long three-day weekend with their family and friends. The beautiful weather and surrounding landscape of our city of Santa Clarita offers the perfect backdrop for the kick-off to a wonderful summer ahead. But during your time of relaxation and celebration, I encourage our residents to remember the true meaning behind the Memorial Day traditions and what they mean to the freedoms we enjoy.
Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday was observed on May 30, from 1868 to 1970 in the United States, with women, often military widows, decorating the graves of soldiers with flowers, wreaths and flags. In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as a federal holiday, which would take place on the last Monday in May as our nation’s day to memorialize and honor service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There are so many heroes and veterans who deserve not only our respect but also our unwavering gratitude for their dedication and valor. Their dedication and bravery have preserved the many freedoms that we, as Americans and as a community, value so dearly.
Those freedoms have been hard-fought for and hard-won. Members of the Santa Clarita community have answered the call to defend our country since World War I, and I am proud to see our residents continue to respond to the calls to protect life and liberty. During Memorial Day, as well as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, I am filled with pride in our military members as I drive through Santa Clarita and see the many Hometown Heroes banners that adorn our streetlight poles in the Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus and Valencia communities.
The Hometown Heroes banner program was started in Santa Clarita as a way to not only honor our local service men and women, but also to bring joy and comfort to their families who are often separated by thousands of miles, for many months at a time, while they serve our country. As you drive through our community, I would encourage you to take note of just how many members of our Santa Clarita family have made the commitment to protecting your freedoms.
Another way I enjoy reflecting on the sacrifices made by members of our military forces is by spending some time in Old Town Newhall at the Veterans Historical Plaza. One of Santa Clarita’s 36 parks, the plaza displays flags from each branch of the armed forces, as well as story stations that provide historical information on each of our nation’s military conflicts. If you are looking for the perfect place to educate your young ones on why Memorial Day is so much more than the unofficial start of summer, Veterans Historical Plaza is the perfect place to start! When you stroll through the plaza, you will also notice engraved bricks that surround the ellipse. These bricks are inscribed with the names of local Santa Clarita veterans to honor their contributions.
If you would like more information or are interested in participating in the Hometown Heroes banner program or the Veterans Brick program, please visit santa-clarita.com.
The city of Santa Clarita has always been a strong community with a large active-duty and veteran population. There are many ways throughout our city to show your pride for that connection to our military families this Memorial Day. Whether you attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Eternal Valley, watch the changing of the flags at Veterans Historical Plaza or set out to see your Hometown Hero’s banner proudly on display throughout the city, make sure to take the time to reflect on the history of this significant and important American tradition. Also, take the time to admire the thousands of flags placed by our Scouts throughout Eternal Valley, honoring all our veterans who served our country, bless them and thank them.
Laurene Weste is a member of Santa Clarita’s City Council and can be reached at [email protected]