Memorial Day event to be bigger, better than ever

Acorn Staff Writer

The producer of the annual Memorial Day show at Pierce Brothers Memorial Park says the May 27 tribute to the country’s fallen heroes will be the best ever for the local area.

Hal Geer, who’s put together each of the last 10 Memorial Day programs at the Westlake Village cemetery, said the nation’s fervent patriotic mood could bring out as many as 5,000 spectators, almost twice as many as last year.

"Suddenly patriotism is popular again and acceptable," Geer said. "I expect a different attitude from a lot of people who will be coming."

The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a half-hour performance by the Air National Guard Band, followed by an hour-long stage show featuring actors depicting important events in United States military history.

Geer, a former U.S. Army major who served as a combat photographer in World War II, said the production is about all things patriotic, with certain exceptions.

"The ceremony is unlike any you’ve ever seen because we don’t have any politicians talking," he said. "That was my first rule when they asked me to produce this thing."

The Amen Choir from the Shepherd of the Hills Church in Northridge and the Valley Airs Choir from the San Fernando Valley will provide a vocal backdrop as the likes of "Alexander Hamilton" and "Abraham Lincoln" perform in front of the audience.

Plenty of outdoor seating will be provided, said Geer, a former vice president and executive producer at Warner Brothers.

The event will include an appearance by a detachment of Camp Pendleton Marines who recently returned from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Firefighters from New York and Los Angeles who served in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center rescue will be honored as well.

Ceremonial functions will be performed by a Marine Corps color guard and members of the junior ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps). Seabees, the U.S. Naval Construction Force personnel from Port Hueneme, are also scheduled to attend.

The Conejo-Simi Valley chapter of the Retired Officers Association is helping produce the show.

"I think there’s a resurgence of patriotism, and I think people have thought a lot more about the meaning of what it is to be free and what it takes to be free," said Gene Talmadge, the chapter president and a former Navy commander.

"That’s what this is all about."

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