(Westlake Village, Ca) Conejo Valley residents gathered at Pierce Brother Valley-Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village to honor those fallen while serving their country. Over 3,000 people from near and far visited the local venue as choirs sang, fighter planes flew overhead, and many stood and sat during the event’s various activities.
“I brought my kids here to remember those who fought to keep our country free,” shared Ken Wilkinson, a US Army veteran. Of Wilkinson’s 11 children, nine were in attendance and helped with the set-up of the flags organized by the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts.
“I want to impress upon them that freedom isn’t free. We paid for it. We talk about past wars so they don’t forget and make the mistakes of the past generation. God Willing, none of my kids will have to go to war.”
The Air Force Auxiliary Color Guard cadets marched with the marines under direction of Major Bob Phillips. Phillips, a formal naval officer, is also the past president of the Westlake Village Rotary Club.
The Zdenek family was in spirited attire from grandma Betty Zdenek to little Kyle. Jason and Lisa Zdenek and every year with their three boys. “We come every year to teach the kids,” said Lisa Zdenek. “Dad served and Jason’s grandparents served. It is so important to recognize this and we make it a priority.”
Bill Estrada of the “West Coast Weasels” based in Thousand oaks, requires every member of his club to attend the event. “I am a Vet and we honor those that have fallen,” explains Estrada.
The event began with the Air National Guard Band of the West Coast and continued with various contributions including a choir assembled from multiple churches. Among the many notable moments were the aircraft flyover and “The Armed Forces Medley”. The service concluded with “God Bless America”.
Dories Pagaspas and Theresa Lewis watched the service in the shade of a pine tree. As residents from Camarillo since 1982, the two enjoyed the event’s activities with clapping and smiles.
From kids to adults, people sat on blankets, folding chairs, and chair provided by the event.
The ceremony is produced by members of the Conejo-Simi Valley Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Conejo Valley Chapter Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW) the DiRaimondo Chapter No. 750 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), the Eric Huberth Post No 1139 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the 23rd Marines, 2nd Battalion, Camarillo Composite Squadron 61, group 4, California Wing, USAF Civil Air Patrol, Memorial Day Choir: Singers from the Emmanual Presbyterian Church, Forever Young Singers, Pierce Brother Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Air National Guard Band of the West Coast, Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing, and other civic minded individuals and organizations.