Seal Beach community gathers to remember the fallen

Old Town marks Memorial Day in person

Young Marines post the colors to mark the start of the Memorial Day Ceremony.

Seal Beach residents gathered in person in Eisenhower Park to commemorate Memorial Day 2021. Volunteers passed out flags to the individuals who gathered to mark a solemn Monday, May 31.

It felt almost normal. It had, in fact, been two years since it was possible to people to gather in the park to honor the memories of those who gave their lives in service to the nation.

Congresswoman Michelle Steel was one of the speakers. Her son-in-law is a Naval officer. “We have to remember these men and women who lost their lives, who sacrificed their lives, to defend our freedom,” Steel said.

Thomas Bell of the Seal Beach Lions said, “Please, please take time to remember.”

Mayor Joe Kalmick described the occasion as a solum reminder of the results of conflict.”

Grace Community Church Choir sand “America the Beautiful,” and “This Land is Your Land.”

Executive Officer Jon Lee-Warner of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach was the next speaker.

“If there was any place to be hunkered down for the whole COVE response, Seal Beach is a great place,” he said.

The audience applauded.

He asked why it was important to stop and remember.

“We are so prone to forgetting,” Lee-Warner said.

He said history is littered with civilizations that repeated the same mistakes over and over.

He thanked veterans and their families.

“We who are active service members stand on your shoulders,” he said.

Lee-Warner urged those veterans who were mentally or spiritually wounded to reflect, to pray, and to seek help.

Gold Star mother and daughter Elane Brittain began by telling the story of her father, who went to Vietnam after she turned 8. She asked him to buy a large box of crayons so she could draw everything she saw, because she missed him so much when he was away.

He said she could make do with a small box.

She got so upset, she “ran away,” meaning she walked around the block. Her father found her, spanked her, put her in the car. She was so angry with him she wished he was dead.

When the news came that he had died in the line of duty, she blamed herself.

Thirty years after her daddy died, her first born son told her he wanted to join the Army.

She said he couldn’t do that, they were a Navy family.

Her son let her cry before telling her he wasn’t afraid to die.

She told him you don’t tell a mother that.

She said she could lay down her life for her children, but could not lay down her life for people she didn’t know. 

Brittain said she was a member of an organization for orphans of Vietnam. The group has Father’s Day picnics. She never celebrated Father’s Day.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley arrived.

She said this year, more than ever, it was important to remember. “We must never forget. I know I won’t,” Foley said.

She gave certificates of recognition to Seal Beach Lions Stan Sarkauskus and Scott Weir.

Foley asked employers to call her  office if they wanted to hire a veteran.

Michelle Steel’s Office also recognized the Seal Beach Lions, Grace Community Church and Kalmick.

Pastor Bab Wriedt of Grance Community Church delivered the closing prayer.