Memorial Day was observed on Monday in South Pasadena, featuring moving speeches, lively music and something new this year – a drum circle and meditation to help mark the occasion.
A large crowd gathered at the War Memorial Building on Fair Oaks Avenue to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting for their country. It was a prelude to family barbecues, picnics and dinners across Los Angeles County communities and beyond.
Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian opened the program by welcoming specials guests –Congesswoman Judy Chu, Assemblymember Chris Holden, Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s Field Deputy Enrique Robles and South Pasadena councilmembers.
The mayor also recognized and thanked Boy Scout Troop 333 for carrying the American flag to the front as part of a color guard presentation and the South Pasadena Brass Band for playing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” traditionally played to greet soldiers coming home and acknowledging the saints who go through the Pearly Gates.
Changing up the pattern of the past, musician and City Arts Commissioner Jaz Sawyer led a drum circle and Chaim Gilan, facilitated a yoga and meditation session at the conclusion of the program.
But most of the event was dedicated to remembering the fallen, those who perished while serving in the United States Armed Services.
“I believe Memorial Day holds several worthwhile purposes,” Khubesrian told audience members. “First and foremost, of course, it is a day of remembrance. It is to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our great nation.”
In recent history, pointed out the mayor, 6,997 service members have died in service to the country since 9/11. “Today we grieve alongside their families,” she said. “And we honor them by upholding our promises to our veterans when they come home, and by fighting to bring these forever wars to a close. And the way to begin is by asking the right questions about the nature of war and leadership in a way that can foster diplomacy and collaboration beyond borders, rather than the taking up of arms. By the time our sons and daughters are sent into the battlefield, their leaders failed to cooperate, discuss and work out differences with diplomatic and collaborative ways.”
Khubesrian said Monday’s Memorial Day program was designed a little differently than past events, noting: “I wanted to include drumming, yoga and meditation because those things do bring people together and require collaboration beyond personal borders. These activities ask us to think about others and consider the group, and our communities, rather than just ourselves. And it’s critical to consider the effects that our actions will have on other citizens of our neighborhoods, cities, states and nations.”
Too often in human history, explained Khubesrian, “we’ve failed to consider the true costs and the true horrors of war. As we remember our fallen servicemen and women today, let us visualize a future of peace, well-being and prosperity for all.”
The guest speaker was Phluente Riddle, a Pasadena resident, a motivational speaker, management and leadership consultant specializing in organizational leadership development and community engagement.
Riddle recounted all the wars of the past century and the tally of more than 2.8 million soldiers who have died in wars and have been accounted for, Khubesrian explained.
“Her message was that our freedom was not free,” said the mayor. “It came at a high price, and we better appreciate that and defend our freedoms and rights on a daily basis.”