Patriotic spirit soars on Peninsula as Memorial Day celebrations near
Published - 05/22/14 - 01:57 PM | 5652 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Boy Scouts and adult leaders prepare to plant hundreds of American flags at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in preparation for a previous Memorial Day commemoration. 								      Photo by Jim Grant
Boy Scouts and adult leaders prepare to plant hundreds of American flags at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in preparation for a previous Memorial Day commemoration. Photo by Jim Grant
Memorial Day will be observed on the Peninsula with military fanfare and patriotic flair.

A Memorial Day program honoring the legacy of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation will be held Monday, May 26 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, starting at 10 a.m. The Fort Rosecrans program includes music, recitation of the Gettysburg Address and a 21-gun salute in honor of the nation’s fallen heroes.

The nearby Cabrillo National Monument will also be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Memorial Day. The park will be closed before noon on this day, however, in deference to the planned Memorial Day event and services at Fort Rosecrans.

Traffic on Catalina Boulevard at Navy Base Gate Post 2 and Cabrillo Memorial Drive south of the cemetery will be closed in the morning to all vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians to reduce congestion and increase safety.

Visitors are encouraged to avoid the area unless they are attending the memorial event at Fort Rosecrans. As a result of the morning closure, Cabrillo National Monument will then be open in the evening so visitors can view the sunset from the park. The park and its grounds will close at 8 p.m.

For more information about Cabrillo National Monument, visit www.nps.-gov.cabr/.

Another Memorial Day ceremony will be held at Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Drive at the Flag Assembly area, the day before Memorial Day, on Sunday, May 25, starting at 1 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations West at Camp Pendleton. The guest speaker will be Bradley Phillips, executive director of Memorial Service Network V.

The Peninsula community will also commemorate Memorial Day with its own flair. For more than 50 years, a patriotic display of American flags has lined Rosecrans Street along a two-mile stretch from Lytton to Talbot streets, thanks to the Optimist Club of Point Loma.

More than 160 flags are erected at

7 a.m. every Sunday and on federal holidays and methodically removed by nightfall.

“We have a vehicle that we load up with flags, and it’s a two-man operation putting them up, starting at 7 a.m. on Memorial Day. They come down about 4 p.m.,” said Optimist spokesman Ron Lauderbach. “The reason we do this is to honor the flag and the military.”

Lauderbach said the Optimist Club and other Point Lomans have since extended military recognition to returning submarine crews, putting out banners in the community to welcome home submariners.

Optimists have supported a large number of Point Loma- and Ocean Beach-based youth programs for nearly 60 years, donating to community organizations, sports teams, scholarships and projects ranging from the Peninsula Pony League and Point Loma High School booster and sports clubs, including providing much-needed equipment for local classrooms and the YMCA.

The Optimists also formed Friends of the Flag, the fundraising arm for the nonprofit’s weekly flag program, which installs 168 American flags with assistance from Boy Scout Troop 500 along the community’s sidewalks every Sunday and national holiday.

One of the flag program’s main sponsors, Point Loma Nazarene University, contributes a generous amount to the program to continue without the need for the Optimists to divert funds from its youth programs.

A few local merchant donors have also contributed to the cause. 

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day commemorates U.S. servicemembers who have died in service to our country. First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma is a federal installation located on the grounds of the former Army coastal artillery station Fort Rosecrans and is administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The cemetery is named after William Starke Rosecrans, a Union general in the American Civil War. The cemetery was registered as a California Historical Landmark in 1932. Spread over 77.5 acres, Fort Rosecrans is on both sides of Catalina Boulevard.

 Burial at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is available for eligible veterans, their spouses and dependents at no cost to the family, and it includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker and perpetual care as part of a national shrine.

Anyone interested in membership to The Optimist Club of Point Loma or supporting Friends of the Flag is urged to visit, or call Lauderbach at (619) 846-0095.

All donations are tax deductible.

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