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HIGH HONORS MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS PAY HOMAGE TO HEROES.

Byline: Rachel Uranga Staff Writer

Memories of those lost in battle and gratitude for their sacrifices must never fade, said 79-year-old Peter Howenstien as he sat alone watching the crowd dissipate from Monday's Memorial Day service at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in the Hollywood Hills.

He came to pay homage to best friends and brothers lost in World War II, and also to those newly returning veterans from the Middle East.

``This brings back so many memories,'' said the trim Northridge resident, who stormed Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion and received a Purple Heart from Gen. George Patton.

``People forget what we did, and they need to shake our hand and remember,'' said Howenstien, one of thousands honored around Southern California on Monday.

Like many of the 800 mostly World War II and Korean War veterans and their families that assembled for the ceremony along a grassy stretch covered in lawn chairs, Howenstien returns year after year.

The Forest Lawn service, with its formal wreath-laying ceremony and solemn playing of taps, was mirrored throughout Southern California.

In West Los Angeles, thousands gathered at the Los Angeles National Cemetery for the 44th annual Armed Forces Day Parade, where Gov. Gray Davis announced that he would support a bill exempting spouses of those killed in action from paying state income taxes for three years.

``Throughout our history, brave men and women have fought for our flag - far from home, but never far from America's heart,'' Davis said.

At a ceremony Sunday in Monterey Park, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, awarded Robert M. Palomares a long-awaited Purple Heart for escaping a destroyer ripped apart by German torpedoes more than half a century ago.

About 4,000 people showed up at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village for the traditional ceremonies as well as a series of skits, mostly by veterans, re-enacting battles from the Revolutionary War to the recent war in Iraq.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, nearly 1,000 people assembled at Eternal Valley Memorial Park. As American flags flapped in the wind, two F-16 fighter jets flew overhead.

Frank La Rosa attended the Santa Clarita gathering, nearly 30 years after serving in Vietnam.

``If we don't remember, who will?'' he said.

At the Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills ceremony, legendary television star, comedian and two-time Emmy-award winner Art Linkletter hosted the ceremonies, speaking about his visits with soldiers during World War II.

``We fight to give liberty and freedom,'' said Linkletter, receiving loud applause from many in the audience who remember watching his popular 1950s and '60s variety show ``House Party.''

He recalled walking into a burn ward after World War II and joking with the patients.

``They'd laugh, because they didn't want somebody sobbing for them,'' Linkletter said.

It's true nobody wants to wallow in misery; rather veterans honor wars past in hope of giving their service dignity, said Marta Spooner, an 86- year-old Canoga Park resident who lost her husband during World War II.

``It's still sore in my heart,'' said Spooner, a nurse's aide at a U.S. naval hospital during World War II and one of only two women at the ceremony wearing their military caps. ``I saw a lot of misery there.''

Staff Writer Nicholas Grudin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CAPTION(S):

6 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) PALMDALE: The Condor Squadron of World War II-era planes performs a flyover Monday at Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer

(2 -- color) CANOGA PARK: Fans, some in Uncle Sam hats, line the route Monday for the Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade and Street Festival. See Page 4.

Phil McCarten/Staff Photographer

(3 -- color) HOLLYWOOD HILLS: Veterans standing at attention salute as taps is played at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

(4) Ashly Mayo, 3, left, Hunter Mayo, 5, Charlie Smith, 5, and Olivia Smith, 3, are all decked out.

(5 -- 6) Art Linkletter, above left, gives the keynote speech Monday at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills while, at left, Sgt. Thomas D. Wood, left, places a memorial wreath during the ceremony.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 27, 2003
Words:681
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