Veterans Day celebration to debut outside of L.A. Coliseum

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Los Angeles’ first official Veterans Day celebration will make its debut Monday outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum starting at 9 a.m. In addition to musical performances and aerial demonstrations, veterans in attendance will also be able to connect with care and resource providers from across the Southland.

The formal program will begin at 10 a.m. and include speeches by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

The Coliseum’s torch will be lit at 11 a.m. to mark the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” when World War I ended in 1918.

Gabbard, a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, joined Hahn in the successful effort to cancel plans to rebrand the Coliseum as the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum as part of a $69 million naming-rights agreement to help fund the $270 million renovation of the stadium, which opened in 1923.

The event was inspired by the lighting of the Coliseum’s torch on June 6 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Liz Odendahl, Hahn’s communications director, told City News Service.

“(Hahn) thinks that the Coliseum is an incredible memorial to veterans that we should use more often for that purpose,” Odendahl said.

The Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to Los Angeles veterans of World War I. It was rededicated to all veterans in 1968.

“Veterans Day LA is an opportunity for all of us to show our gratitude for our nation’s heroes and recommit to ensuring these men and women can thrive when they return home,” said Hahn, the event’s chair.

Organizers hope to make Veterans Day LA an annual event.

Other events to mark Veterans Day are planned for Mission Hills, San Pedro, Carson, West Hollywood, El Sereno and the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

The 16th annual San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade will begin at 11:11 a.m. at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and San Fernando Mission Boulevard in Mission Hills and proceed south on Laurel Canyon Boulevard for 1.1 miles, ending at Paxton Street.

The opening ceremony will be held at 10:35 a.m. at the intersection of Brand Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

Parade rules limit participation to veterans, Marines, soldiers, sailors, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel, high school bands and ROTC units.

More than 100 veterans groups are set to participate in the parade, according to Fred A. Flores, a Marine Corps veteran who founded the parade.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department Firehawk helicopter is set to buzz the parade route and review stand at 11:11 a.m. A squadron of Condor planes used in World War II training missions will fly in formation over the parade route from 11:35-11:40 a.m.

The grand marshal will be Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Jorge Rodriguez, who served in the Marine Corps from 1982-86.

“Veterans Day is about celebrating and honoring our veterans for their sacrifices, their service and commitment to our country,” Flores said. “More must be done to honor our veterans and their families.”

A Veterans Day celebration and film festival will be held from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. on the Battleship Iowa, which is docked at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.

The festival will include screenings at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. of the documentary “The Last Signal” about two veterans who served aboard the same ship in World War II reuniting in 2015 for the first time after the war. A question-and-answer session with the documentary’s director, Kyle Olson, is set for 3:15 p.m.

The World War I documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old” will be screened at 11:15 a.m.

There will also be family-friendly activities on the ship’s fantail including mural painting. At 1 p.m., Carole Hershman will read “Vicky! Mascot First Class of the USS Iowa,” the children’s book she co-authored with her husband Mike about the ship’s mascot during World War II.

Ship tours will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at regular admission rates. All active, reserve and retired military will receive free self-guided tour admission.

The 60th annual Veterans Day event at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills will include a flyover, patriotic music, a rifle salute by the Los Angeles Police Department Honor Guard and a wreath-laying. The ceremony will run from 11 a.m.-noon.

An interactive historic military artifact display, face-painting, arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities will be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Carson will hold its Veterans Day celebration at 10 a.m. at Veterans Park, which will include patriotic music, veterans information booths and ROTC and cheerleader presentations.

Veterans Day ceremonies will also be held at 11 a.m. at the Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial on Santa Monica Boulevard at Holloway Drive in West Hollywood and at noon on the median at Van Horne Avenue and Huntington Drive in El Sereno.

Veterans Day has its roots in a proclamation issued by President Woodrow Wilson in November 1919, a year after World War I ended, designating Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. States soon started declaring Nov. 11 a legal holiday. Congress made it a federal holiday in 1938, dedicated to the cause of world peace.

In 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress, at the urging of veterans service organizations, passed a law renaming Armistice Day Veterans Day. From 1971-1977, Veterans Day was held in late October. A 1975 law returned it to Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.

In his Veterans Day proclamation, President Donald Trump wrote, “On Nov. 11, Americans commemorate the service, sacrifice and immeasurable contributions of our nation’s veterans who have proudly worn our country’s uniform to defend and preserve our precious liberty.

“As we celebrate Veterans Day, we pause to recognize the brave men and women who have fearlessly and faithfully worked to defend the United States and our freedom.

“Their devotion to duty and patriotism deserves the respect and admiration of our grateful nation each and every day.  We are forever thankful for the many heroes among us who have bravely fought around the world to protect us all.”

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