WESTWOOD (CBSLA) – On a day that many Americans honor the sacrifice of women and men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, visitors to the National Cemetery in Westwood paid their respects despite some 20 flags being stolen from the grounds in the early morning hours.
Cemetery officials said there’s an ongoing investigation into theft, but made it clear that the theft shouldn’t take from the many people who come to the grounds every year to remember those who are lost.
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“You can’t really think about freedom without thinking about sacrifice,” Jon Lim, a veteran, told CBSLA’s Joy Benedict. Lim came to visit and remember Capt. James Ahn, a green beret who died on a training mission.
“One of the best of the best,” Lim said. “Apparently his parachute malfunctioned. Also, there was an issue with his reserve parachute as well, and so he did not make that jump. Ironically, it happened on September 11 in 2015.”
Jackie Maldonado came to visit her brother, Staff Sergeant Jesus Maldonado who served in the Army for 14 years.
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“October 2014, two days after his birthday…it was self-inflicted. We believe he had PTSD. Everything just seemed so okay and it wasn’t,” Maldonado said of her brother’s sacrifice.
There was no official ceremony this year and some graves never got flags, but those who came to pay their respects said they didn’t need a flyover or celebrities to remember the fallen.
Rich Reinis never served in the military, but said he brings his family to the cemetery every year at this time.
“The major thing for me is to walk among the graves and see the names of those buried here. It’s the right thing to do. I want my kids and my grandchildren to understand what the holiday is about and what men and women have sacrificed for this country,” Reinis said.
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