Community News

Huntington Beach Memorial Day Ceremony 2024

by: Jerry Person
Published: May 27, 2024


The flag of the United States of America


HUNTINGTON BEACH...The day may have been called Decoration Day and celebrated on May 30th for over a hundred years, a day that people return to the graves of loved ones who served in the military or relatives long dead from some long past war, to decorate their graves with flowers from the home garden.

Miss Huntington Beach with the wreath that will be brought forward later in the event


Today we call it Memorial Day, but it still a day of solemn remembrance of those graves without flowers or flags. To quietly remember those relatives who died in the service of their country.

Today several veteran and service organizations travel cemeteries across our nation to place flags at these graves of veterans in lonely unkempt cemeteries so that these forgotten individuals will never be forgotten.

In homes and in schools today youngsters are more interested in their cellphones and online games then learning from their family about their relatives who died and now rest forgotten in some far off cemetery. Families today forget that it is their duty to remember these people on this special day.

Pier Plaza played host to the biggest Memorial Day Ceremony in its long history on Monday, May 27, 2024 with every seat in Pier Plaza being filled, along with many more people who had to stand at the top of Pier Plaza's amphitheater and even many more who lined up along the rail of the historic Huntington Beach Pier to watch the ceremony.

The ceremony began with music provided by students of the Huntington Beach High School Band under the able leadership of music director Austin Floyd.


Dr. Jim Ghormley


This year was no exception for Dr. Jim Ghormley as he acted as Master of Ceremonies to welcome the audience to this year's Memorial Day Ceremony. Ghormley has acted as master of ceremonies for 16 years here in Huntington Beach that he has become the symbol and the heart of Memorial Day.

This year the National Anthem was sung by Natalie Bowen


Asking everyone in the audience to rise, Ghormley called upon the band to play the National Anthem. Many in the audience showed their respect for our country in their own way.

Many in the audience saluted by placing their hand over their hearts while others stood at attention as the BSA Troop 319 members lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ghormley gave the audience a little history of Memorial Day from its roots in the end of the American Civil War and the decorating of the graves of the fallen on both sides. He ended with asking the audience to remember the Gold Star mothers and the rest of our service veterans on this day.

As he has done for many years, Huntington Beach resident Mike Ali was called upon to place the black and white POW/MIA banner on the empty chair in front of the podium.

L-R: Mike Ali and Jim Ghormley


The POW-MIA empty chair


The Invocation was delivered by Roger Wing


Wing ended the Invocation with, "We need you more than ever God."


Huntington Beach Mayor Garcey Van Der Mark

"As we stand here today, remember those who could not," said Van Der Mark.


Colonel William Wenger

The main speaker for this year's Memorial Day was Colonel William Wenger, U.S. Army, Retired who also talked about the history of this day and concluded with "We can and should do more for our Veterans."


Former Mayor Tony Strickland and present Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark bring the wreath up to the podium

Next up came the wreath honoring the men and women who served in the service and to those who gave their lives in the name of freedom had been placed next to the podium. This was the duty of Former Mayor Tony Strickland and present Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark.

When the time came for the reading of the names of the fallen heroes from Huntington Beach, members from the Huntington Beach City Council, City Attorney, came forward to read the names of all those brave souls who died in the service of their country from World War I, thru today's war in the middle east. As each name was called, Ghormley would answer with, "No Answer."

Jim Ghormley repeats "No Answer" as each name is called


Mike Ali now waited for the time to removed the POW-MIA cover from the empty chair


The ceremony closing was followed by an ear splitting Three Volley Rifle Salute by members of the the American Legion Huntington Beach Post 133's Honor Guard and a flyover from HB1.

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