Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It originally was known as Decoration Day, beginning in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Residents can observe Memorial Day by making visits to cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings via Zoom or other live communication sites.
While South Pasadena’s event won’t be held at the War Memorial Building in town, flags will be lowered a half mast throughout the city and nation, recognizing not only those who lost their lives in battles but “the grim milestone of 100,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 over these past three months,” explained Dr. Marina Khubesrian, a South Pasadena City Council member. “This is on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and grieve for because we are still in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to give our collective grief an outlet and language. We need to pause and acknowledge the loss of life on such a large scale in a short amount of time.”
The City Council member realizes this year Memorial Day takes on new significance, noting: “We need to be extra compassionate with ourselves for not being at our best. Mourning is an active process. It is work that creates physical changes in our bodies affecting memory, sleep, and appetite. We need to be patient and kind with others around us who are dealing with the stresses of a loss of “normalcy.” Let’s spend some of Memorial Day allowing ourselves the space to reflect on the past three months and perhaps share some of our reflections with family and friends.”
Joe Ortiz, South Pasadena Police Chief
“Memorial Day has always been a reminder to me of what every veteran has given to this country. Every veteran, whether served in war or peacetime, made sacrifices, most known to anyone but themselves. Growing up, my brother and I learned of an uncle (who was only 18 years old) that was tragically killed during the first two months of his deployment in the Vietnam War. We never met the man, but his loss of life and legacy lives on with our family. Memorial Day memorializes all of those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those that did their jobs and didn’t come home. This day also reminds us to grieve and never forget the families, the living, that also paid the ultimate sacrifice, for a lifetime.”
Diana Mahmud, South Pasadena City Councilmember
“Although Memorial Day these days is typically regarded as the start of summer, it is intended to honor those who gave their lives for our country. I think of my maternal uncle, who quit his senior year of high school to enlist soon after Pearl Harbor. He fought with Patton in North Africa and landed in a glider during the Normandy Invasion, carrying the heavier equipment for the paratroopers. At the age of 21 my grandmother told me he was called the “old man” because he was one of the few in his unit who had survived so many battles. Unfortunately he suffered from nightmares throughout his life and developed dementia in his 80’s, which I attribute to the numerous concussions I believe he experienced during the war, being so close to artillery. He is my war hero, and his experience was repeated by many of the Greatest Generation. God bless them all, and the more recent veterans of Vietnam and our Gulf Wars.”
South Pasadena Mayor Robert Joe knows the importance of the day, “The City of South Pasadena shares the grief and pain of our community and our nation as we reach 100,000 lives lost,” he said. “Our hearts are with these families at this time of terrible sorrow. And let us always remember our military heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our nation.”