Memorial Day about all vets

Vietnam veteran heads up committee to remember residents who died serving their country.

May 29, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph
  • Looking over names for the Memorial Day Ceremony of the Rose at McCambirdge Park War Memorial in Burbank are, from left, Mickey De Palo, Doris Vick and Greg Alaimo, on Friday. Memorial Day festivities will include a flyover by the Condor Squadron.
Looking over names for the Memorial Day Ceremony of the… (Raul Roa )

Vietnam War veteran Mickey DePalo continues to serve his country — and his city — as chairman of the Burbank Veterans Commemorative Committee.

DePalo works with about 14 other members to organize programs for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other programs that salute Burbank residents who have served and are still serving their country.

"I think the committee's purpose is that we want to honor all veterans and honor and remember all the soldiers and Marines who have died in service to our country," he said.

Also important to the committee, he added, is the support of the loved ones left behind.

"We want them to know that we do care, and we are indebted to them for the service their loved ones have made for us," he said.

Monday's Memorial Day service at the McCambridge Park War Memorial will start out with a fly-over by the civilian Condor squadron and the Burbank Community Band playing patriotic music. The Ceremony of the Rose follows.


"We have committee members read the names of all the soldiers and Marines that appear on the memorial plaques, and Boy Scouts lay a red rose at the memorial for each name," he said, describing the ceremony. "That's the highlight of the day."

The committee members will also read the names of the two Burbank members of the armed forces who died during the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I work with a great group on the committee and city staff who are really passionate in making sure our ceremonies are as dignified and sensitive as possible to the veterans and their families," DePalo said.

The committee also worked to bring The Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Washington D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, for a week to the McCambridge Park War Memorial in 1998. It displays more than 58,000 names of soldiers who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

"We had 20,000 people who came to see it during that week," DePalo said.

People made etchings of the names of loved ones by scratching a pencil over a special paper applied on top of the name.

"This was an opportunity for families who couldn't get to Washington, D.C., to see it," he said.

The commemorative committee also organizes a military banner program, an idea introduced by member Chris Welker. Families can have their children's names placed on a banner that is hung on sign and light posts around City Hall.

"When that soldier or Marine comes home, we present the banner to the service personnel who have completed their active duty," DePalo said.

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