Wounded warriors from across the United States will be recognized for their service at La Vista Memorial Park’s eighth annual Memorial Day celebration.
Luisa McCarthy, general manager of La Vista Memorial Park, said honoring the nation’s injured soldiers is about thanking those who sacrificed everything for America’s freedom.
“They are true hero survivors,” she said. “I’ve never served, so this is my way of saying thank you.”
McCarthy said the event is not just a celebration but also an educational experience for the community to understand the veterans of war.
“They will be a visual remembrance of what war does,” she said. “But yet they’re there with pride and happiness and still standing strong.”
McCarthy said about five to 10 wounded veterans are scheduled to be present for the ceremony.
While the ceremony will be honoring wounded warriors, Pearl Harbor survivors will be on hand continuing the tradition of the two-bell ceremony. She said this is an emotional tradition because there aren’t many Pearl Harbor survivors left.
Honoring America’s veterans doesn’t begin with the ceremony. In fact, La Vista has a Civil War monument highlighting those who served in the Grand Army of the Republic.
McCarthy also said there are thousands of soldiers buried at La Vista.
Traditionally, La Vista Memorial Park is a cemetery, but National City Mayor Ron Morrison said the Memorial Day celebration along with the park’s Dia de los Muertos event debunks any myths that a cemetery is a spooky place.
“It is a highly unusual event in that they take a cemetery and turn that ceremony into a huge family picnic,” Morrison said.
McCarthy said the event has grown to be a fixture in the National City community.
When the event first started eight years ago about 40 people including staff where in attendance. Last year, when the memorial park honored America’s women veterans, about 400 to 500 people showed up.
McCarthy said this event brings unity in the community.
“It definitely gives us an opportunity for the community to gather together and remember such an important day,” McCarthy said.
There will be food, beverages and entertainment, as well as a mini-zoo and pony rides for the kids.
The free Memorial Day celebration takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Monday, May 26.
La Vista Memorial Park is at 3191 Orange St. in National City.