Hundreds of people gathered at Huntington Beach Pier Plaza on Monday to honor the fallen during the city's annual Memorial Day ceremony, which included speakers, a marching band and a gun salute.
Dennis Bauer, 66, a Vietnam War veteran and the adjutant for American Legion Post 133, said he fights back tears during the event every year as he stares out at the Pacific Ocean.
"My dad was in the Navy, and he was buried at sea," the veteran said. "I just think about him because he's out there in that ocean that I'm looking at."
Bauer and Post 133, which has been in Huntington Beach since 1919, host the event each year.
Local dignitaries, including Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach and state Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), said a few words about those who lost their lives in combat as a large American flag, hung from the ladder of a Huntington Beach fire truck, waved in the coastal breeze.
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) played an acoustic guitar and sang in honor of the men and women who have served in the military.
Post 133 also
organizes a Veterans Day ceremony and smaller patriotic events in Huntington Beach during the year.
And the post's
military veterans donate money to various causes, including the city's Hometown Heroes banner program and American Legion's Boys State program, which teaches high school teens how varying levels of government work.
Councilman and post member Dave Sullivan said the group recently started working with Honor Flight Southland, a nonprofit organization that helps send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see that war's memorial.
Toward the end of the ceremony, the post's honor guard performed a three-volley salute to the fallen. After the salute, Post 133's Judge Advocate Bob Davis said he will engrave on spent shell casings the names of service people who have died and give the objects to their families.
"To think about all the men that didn't get a chance to come back [home] like I did, to have a life, get married and become a father," post member Larry Stoll said as he choked back tears. "To have something like that taken away while defending the rights of another country is just touching and emotional."