Julie Leopo

An enterprising and award-winning photojournalist in Orange County and beyond. Leopo, as Voice of OC’s Director of Photography, has captured a wide array of photographs visually documenting the news and soul of Orange County local government and community. Her work has also appeared in Vice, KCET, Ed Source, The California Endowment and OC Weekly.

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To commemorate the women and men that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,  we have the yearly tradition of the US Federal holiday, Memorial Day.  In Orange County, it is a three day weekend filled with Memorial Day ceremonies and beach gatherings under the California sun.

The tradition that began shortly after the Civil War,  is observed every last Monday of May. During these uncertain times many memorials are being celebrated differently. Many memorials held virtual ceremonies and held off on large gatherings.

On May 23, Voice of OC went to Irvine’s Candle lighting event held at Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial. Northwood Memorial was established in 2003 to remember the fallen troops who passed in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

During these unprecedented times where social distancing is encouraged, the outdoor design of the Northwood memorial made it easy for the public to walk up and pay their respects. A Irvine city employee was present and helped the public light candles and assist with, name rubbing, an activity that is very common throughout memorials. You place a piece of paper over the name you wish to copy and carefully draw over a name to leave the imprint on your paper. 

During my visit, the stillness and silence of the memorial intrigued the curiosity of children passing by. Many of the young children, for the first name, rubbed the name of a fallen soldier onto a paper or lit a candle in remembrance of a fallen hero. Here is a glimpse of the memorial on a sunny evening.

Center, Noah Macaraeg, looks up to the names engraved on the monuments in Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Adiv Yair, 12, makes a quick stop by the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial during a break from his bike ride on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A man stops to play his trumpet from across the memorial in Irvine on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A Irvine city employee teaches, Aviv Yair, 12, and his brother, Dave Yair, 11, how to to take a stone rubbing on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Children take the rubbing of Congressional Medals of Honors at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
The words engraved to the flag pole mount at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial in Irvine on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A wreath gifted by the city of Irvine on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial in Irvine on May 23, 2020. The monuments are open 24-7 and name rubbings materials are available in the park office year round. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Sushmitha Reddy and Dave Yair pay their respects by lighting a candle at the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial on May 23, 2020.
The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial on the corner of Bryan and Yale in Irvine on May 23, 2020. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Preferred parking in the Northwood community park is available for veterans. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

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