This Memorial Day weekend, residents from across Orange County are gathering to remember their loved ones who gave it all for freedom.

Preparations for Memorial weekend began on Friday May 28, 2021. Volunteers placed flags over members of the armed forces. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

At Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, the cemetery offered residents a second annual drive-through memorial service. The exhibit ends today, May 31, at 3 P.M. 

The self guided tour starts at the Fairhaven entrance. Employees give the public pamphlets describing each stop throughout the tour. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Memorial Day was established after the U.S. Civil War to honor the war dead and ensure that free people wouldn’t forget what it takes to be free as well as remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of freedom.

One of the stops in the drive through tour commemorates the Navy service branch. The display depicts the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-J day, a day hailed as Victory over Japan. The event occurred in New York City on Aug. 14, 1945. The pair are not a couple, but rather complete strangers according to the photographer who took the original photo. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

At Fairhaven, officials honored all U.S. military branches and service members who have died during their deployment through a series of stations depicting historical events. 

The fourth stop at the Fairhaven memorial honors the Marine Corps through the portrayal of the flag raising that occurred in Iwo Shima. Three of the 6 servicemen in the photo depicted were killed before the battle of Iwo Shima ended, according to the World War II Museum, those men were: PFC Franklin Sousley, Sgt. Michael Strank and Cpl. Harlon Block. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The quiet weekend of remembrance was met with people paying respects to their loved ones at the cemetery, volunteers putting up flags on graves of veterans, and guests walking or driving through the exhibit. 

Panels of photo essays depicting the different U.S. wars are seen along the cemetery. The exhibit is named, “America’s Wars.” Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The event, which is held through memorial weekend, encourages the public to walk the tour or drive through with their cars, a socially distanced outdoor event. The exhibit ends today, May 31, at 3 P.M. 

50 flags are alphabetically lined along a driveway representing the states in the U.S. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Visitors take photos with the U.S. Space Force props at the 7th stop in the tour. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Emily Matamoros, 27, decorates the grave of her father, a member who served in the army. Although the navy veteran, Gustavo Oscar, did not die during his service, Oscar contracted coronavirus last year and dealt with complications, passing away at the age of 46. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Charles Beal, a historian and veteran, walks the cemetery after all flags have been placed from the preparations the day before. Beal volunteers to walk through the cemetery and make sure all veterans are accounted for. Beal looks for any markings a grave may have that indicate the deceased may have served and places a flag to commemorate them- some dating back to the Civil War. Beal also carries a brush to dust off any debris from the grave stones. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

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