And in Orange County, on a stage decked out like a tiny ship, with anchors and buoys and blue streamers for water, Navy Capt. David Jones talked about the "top-notch American lads" who have patrolled the oceans in submarines for 100 years.
The Navy Submarine Force, known as the "Silent Service" for its stealthy, underwater attacks and lonely existence, was the latest military group to be honored at Fullerton's 62nd Memorial Day observance. Hundreds showed up for the event at Loma Vista Memorial Park, gathering under tents and trees, surrounded by 500 flags.
"On board any submarine there will always be an element of inherent danger," Jones told the rapt audience, which gave him a standing ovation. "Patrol after patrol, since the year 1900, submariners ran into enemy fire. And patrol after patrol, they returned to fight."
The Loma Vista Memorial Day tradition was started by the son of the city's first mayor, C. Stanley Chapman, who decorated the cemetery's military graves by himself in 1938.
This weekend, hundreds of volunteers placed more than 3,000 flags and little white crosses on those graves.
"It is a fabulous day," said Maggie McDonald, a Cypress resident whose husband, Max, is buried at Loma Vista. "The flags are glorious. The spirit is breathtaking. I feel proud and I feel sad, but I'm so very thankful for my country."
Earl Deeble, an 81-year-old member of the Submarine Force, wanted to honor the thousands of fellow submariners who lost their lives. "They are still on patrol out there," Deeble said. "They are still heroes too."
In Canoga Park, the beginning of that city's 12th annual Memorial Day parade was signaled by a fly-over by the Condor Squadron, a formation of old fighter planes. About 30,000 people then watched the procession of equestrians, motorcycles, classic cars and cheerleading squads.
Don Stout, 82, a World War II B-17 pilot who rode in the parade, was shot down over Germany and imprisoned for 28 months.
"I still fly the American flag," he said. "I think we should fly it every time we get a chance."
Times staff writers Bonnie Harris and Solomon Moore contributed to this story.