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Residents honor veterans

Speaker at event calls on legislators to get former troops the best care possible.

November 11, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

The band’s final rehearsal at McCambridge Park could be heard a block away, causing drivers to turn their heads or honk, and passersby to pause and take in the scene.

More than half the seats set up for Burbank’s Veterans Day Ceremony were taken well before the event’s 11 a.m. start.

The 90-minute event Friday was hosted by the Veterans Commemorative Committee and the city’s Park, Recreation and Community Services Department.

Children were running on the grass, adults searched for the best spot for their lawn chairs, while others simply watched the band or the tall flags near the war memorial.

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The ceremony was attended by scores of parents, children and at least one family dog. Guests included veterans, staff from congressional leaders, Sen. Carol Liu and the Burbank City Council.

The skies cleared just in time for the flyover from the Condor Squadron. Mickey DePalo, chairman of Burbank's Veterans Commemorative Committee, said in his welcoming remarks that he couldn’t recall a day when it rained on Memorial Day or Veterans Day celebrations.

“From the city of Burbank, thank you, thank you, thank you, and God bless each and every one of you,” DePalo said.

DePalo asked the audience to remember veterans who could not attend, whether they were in the hospital, homeless or still fighting.

He also called on legislators to help veterans get the best care possible.

Grammy Award-winning singer Darlene Koldenhoven treated the crowd with her rendition of the national anthem and “Remember Me,” a song dedicated to her father and all war heroes.

Councilman Gary Bric, whose brother was killed in Vietnam, dedicated the park’s Korean and Vietnam War Memorial in 1988. He said that was how he first began getting involved with activities to honor veterans.

“We’re honoring all veterans of Burbank and the nation,” Bric said just before the ceremony began. “The city prides itself in honoring Burbank’s men and women who put themselves in harm’s way.”

Bric has been a member of the veterans committee for about five years.

For resident Karen Freiburger, 43, attending was about teaching her son the true meaning of Veterans Day.

“I wanted to help him understand the importance of honoring the men and women in our military,” she said, as 3-year-old Jimmy played quietly next to her.

A solemn note was hit with the presentation of “The Missing Man Table,” which honored prisoners of war as well as those missing in action.

Pvt. Wesley Tom, 19, who attended in his Army fatigues following 10 weeks of basic training in Georgia, said the show of support was comforting.

His brother, Kevin, 17, and mother Shirley, 48, were among the family members attending the event with him.

“The men and women serve with their hearts,” Shirley Tom said. “They give up personal comforts, and we appreciate the sacrifice and love for the country.”

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