Living History Reenactors Phillip Dye and Larry Dunn perform wreath laying at memorial
One Hundred Years of Victory Memorial Grove, Flag Day, 2019
By Bill Betten
California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director
If one had taken a short hike on Flag Day in Elysian Park in Los Angeles on the one hundredth anniversary of the dedication of the park and passed by the World War One monument there, your heart surely would have taken a patriotic beat at what you witnessed. A proud display by a striking color-guard, a moving rendition of our National Anthem, and heroic tales of bravery in the field all added to the remarkable feeling of dignity and gratification at being an American.
City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, providing remarks about his own family's connection of the military.This would have been enough, but the moment you met the tall and lanky president of the United States in his signature dashing outfit of navy blue sport coat and white tie, white slacks, white shoes, and white celluloid collar, topped off with a 1920's style straw skimmer, strolling up the path with his wife Edith in arm, one was struck with the added emotion of nostalgic serendipity.
As one of the Co-Directors of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force, I felt honored to be invited by fellow Co-Director Courtland Jindra, but our importance was clearly overshadowed by the attendance of dignitaries, such as Consul Generals, post commanders, and a Los Angeles City Council Member.
The morning remained overcast as the program proceeded, which made for fine weather for sitting outside without shade. The attendees remained comfortable and attentive.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department Honor Guard was asked to present the colors, which they did with distinction and proper decorum, but the rendition of The Star Spangled Banner sung by their baritone, Humberto Agurica, was flawless and emotion-filled, while still being gratifyingly seasoned with just enough respectful coloratura to give the piece an individual flare.
Few commemorations of this manner are blessed with the presence of striking personalities, but when President Woodrow Wilson himself, took the lectern he heartily received the plaudits of the audience. The president, recreated by Robert Tidwell, presented excerpts from his July 4th speech of 1914 and June 14th proclamation of 1916, where he first proposed and proclaimed the initiation of Flag Day.
Recognitions and presentations were made to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, while later City Council Member Mitch O'Farrell, of District 13, gave a rousing and informative presentation to those in attendance.
Tom Ohmer, Historical Narator, introduced the narratives that lay out the background of the monument and Jennifer Campbell, Commander of Hollywood American Legion Post 43, Phillip Murphy, Co-President of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park, and Gay Storm of the Los Angeles-Eschscholtzia Daughters of the American Revolution read excerpts from dedication resolutions, LA times articles, and the dedicatory address from one hundred years ago.
In a unique oration, the Belgian Consul General, Henri Vantieghem, read from a recently published book by Stefan Hertmans. In War and Turpentinethe Flemish author relates the experiences of his own grandfather during WW1. The presentation was exceptional in that Mr. Vantieghem read the words in their original language, while the audience could read along in English. Rarely does one get the opportunity to hear such a creative work as this performed in the power, sonance, and rhythm of its native tongue, while also understanding its meaning.
Read more: One Hundred Years of Victory Memorial Grove, Flag Day, 2019
Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS100)
"Never Forget Garden" initiative represents America’s sacred duty to remember veterans
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Our Centennial Commission has been partners and friends with a number of organizations over the years. Among them is a very special group -- the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This group has a strong focus -- to make certain that the individuals that made the ultimate sacrifice of their life for our freedom are not forgotten, and that the general public understands this price of freedom. The members of the Society are preparing for the Centennial of the arrival of the first Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. To help us all mark this special anniversary, Society members have developed a new initiative to help us to remember the service of our veterans, and the memory of our fallen. We were able to talk with the Project Director, Richard Azzaro, about the project.
Tell us about this great new initiative!
The Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS100) in Arlington National Cemetery is a nationwide invitation from the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) to plant individual and public gardens as a visual way to represent America’s sacred duty to remember our veterans and their families; now and for all time.
The Society views TUS100 as an opportunity to unite our people around love of Country. We feel that this initiative provides a personal path for individuals, communities, gardening clubs, garden architects, seed and plant vendors and government elements to express their profound love, sorrow, respect, and gratitude to those who have served and sacrificed on behalf of America and their families. In the timeless language of flowers, they will quietly trumpet the message that must never weaken: “We will never, ever, forget or forsake our veterans or the principles that define us as Americans.” Any time that we pause to remember our veterans could not be more serious. On that day, in that place, is the time for reflection and remembrance. A day when personal grief and love for country go hand in hand.
See https://tombguard.org/centennial/#garden for information on the complete program.
Our goal is to foster a national movement to create and promote “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Never Forget Garden”, not unlike the popular support of the Victory Gardens of World War II.
Read more: "Never Forget Garden" initiative announced