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Local Memorial Day events give faces, names to fallen military service members

Memorial Day is often marked with barbecues, flash sales and good times with friends and family.

“Their loss allows us to do that,” state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintirdge) said of fallen men and women of the armed forces during the city of Glendale’s annual ceremony to commemorate the holiday outside City Hall on Monday morning.

Behind the speakers were permanent monuments featuring the names of Glendale’s own fallen military personnel, beginning with World War II.

With streets closed around the event, an atypical quiet filled the air.

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“With each name etched on stone … there was a real human life behind that name,” state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) said at the event sponsored by the patriotism committee of the Glendale Veterans Coalition.

Keynote speaker Paul Raggio, a retired U.S. Army colonel and Glendale resident, outlined the lives of three diverse military personnel who died in the line of duty to illustrate that “these fallen warriors truly represent the demographics of our country — all races, all genders, all ethnicities, all religions and all defenders of the United States.

Vietnam War veteran Mike Swan said after the ceremony that the speakers captured the spirit of the holiday, which originated with the decoration of soldiers’ graves following the Civil War of the 1860s.

“[To] remember the veterans who gave [their] all to our country’s freedom — that’s why we’re here,” said Swan, who has attended the past six annual ceremonies in the city.

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Earlier in the morning, individuals who had served in the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force presented a flag to the family of Roy Chiarot, a U.S. Navy Vietnam War veteran who passed away recently, at Two Strike Park in La Crescenta.

His brother, WWII veteran Angelo Chiarot, was on hand to accept the flag.

Roy Chiarot had been a member of American Legion Post 288, which has been co-sponsoring the annual event for years. VFW Post 1614 also co-sponsors the event.

With American history encompassing three centuries of wars, the death toll of more than a million soldiers can be hard to grasp in a meaningful way, said Eugene Tattini, a retired lieutenant general with the U.S. Air Force who gave the keynote address.

To make the figure relatable, Tattini focused on an individual: David Tiffany, a medic from Riverside, who died in Vietnam and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the country’s second highest military award.

“It’s nice to actually see the veterans from our community and be able to honor them,” said Trevor Hall, 16, whose Boy Scout troop is sponsored by the local chapter of the American Legion.

A separate Memorial Day ceremony was held at the Vietnam War Memorial on the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue in Montrose earlier in the morning.

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