The public is invited to celebrate Independence Day and give thanks to service men and women at Freedom Fest on July 4 from 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center, located on the corner of Clark Avenue and Conant Street.
The free celebration is being hosted by the Long Beach Hometown Heroes Project and Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who will kick off the event with a welcoming followed by a presentation of colors and the National Anthem, sung by Erma Vernado.
“Independence Day is a perfect day to remember that without the sacrifice of those who serve in the military, we would not be free,” Councilwoman Schipske said in a statement. “This event gives an opportunity to thank our veterans.”
Guest speakers include Captain Roger LaFerriere of the U.S. Coast Guard, who will delve into the pioneering service of African American and minority service members, and U.S. Naval Commander Stephen M. Ruggiero, who is set to discuss the issue of national pride on the 4th of July.
Ruggiero is a Bronze Medal recepient for his service in 2011 as the Afghanistan Border Military Coordinator with the Border Management Task Force, United States Forces Afghanistan, in Operation Enduring Freedom.
LaFerriere is now Commander of the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach Port, and leads the Coast Guard’s security, safety and environmental protection activities from Morro Bay South to Newport Beach, California, according to a statement.
Councilwoman Schipske will also honor three Montford Point Marines from Long Beach who are not only World War II veterans, but who are also being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Honors from President Barack Obama June 27 in Washington D.C.
The heroic trio--First Sergeants William McDowell and Mitchell Key, and Navy Corpsmen Robert S. Hammond--were among 20,000 African-American to enlist in a segregated Marine Corps, according to a statement.
The names of 14 Long Beach residents who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan will be read aloud at 5:45 p.m.
A two-hour celebration featuring local Long Beach classic rock band, The Emporers will last from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Rosie the Riveter Park, which is one of only two places in the country honoring the service of women during World War II.
For a complete schedule of events and list of Long Beach soldiers killed in combat courtesy of Councilwoman Schipske's office, read below. For more information, contact her office at (562) 570-6932 or via email at email@example.com.
- 5:00 p.m. Welcome - Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
- 5:05 p.m. Presentation of Colors - Millikan Jr. ROTC Color Guard
- 5:10 p.m. National Anthem - Erma Vernado
- 5:12 p.m. Invocation – Bruce MacRae, Public Affairs Manager, UPS
- 5:15 p.m. Bag Pipe Major Scott MacDonald, LBPD - performing Amazing Grace
- 5:20 p.m. Bruce MacRae - Introduction of Speakers and special guests
- 5:25 p.m. Captain Roger LaFerriere, U.S. Coast Guard - Speaker Topic: Pioneering service of African American and minority service members who serve in the Armed Forces
- 5:40 p.m. Introduction to Congressional Gold Medal honorees: Montford Point Marines, First Sergeant William McDowell, and First Sergeant Mitchell Key, and Navy Corpsmen, Robert S. Hammond
- 5:45 p.m. Reading of names of 14 Long Beach Hometown Heroes who died in Iraq or Afghanistan – Lt. Col. Angel Ortiz, U.S. Army National Guard
- 5:55 p.m. Taps performed by Lee Seltzer, Rock for Vets
- 6:00 p.m. Speaker: U.S. Naval Commander Stephen M. Ruggiero, Topic: National Pride on July 4th
- 6:15 p.m. Concluding Remarks - Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
- 6:25 p.m. God Bless America - Erma Vernado
- 6:30 p.m. Live Concert by The Emperors (Popular group of Long Beach)
- 8:30 p.m. Event ends
The 14 Long Beach Hometown Heroes who gave their lives in service to our country include:
US Army 1st Class Stephen A. Castellano
Died: January 28, 2005 in Mosul, Iraq
US Army Major Steven Hutchison
Died: May 10, 2009 in Basra, Iraq
US Army Sergeant Randy D. Collins
Died: May 24, 2005 from injuries suffered in Mosul, Iraq
US Army Private 1st Class Lyndon A. Marcus, Jr.
Died: May 3, 2004 in Khalis (near,) Iraq
US Army Sergeant Anthony J. Davis, Jr.
Died: April 23, 2005 in Mosul, Iraq
US Army Specialist Roberto L. Martinez Salazar
Died: February 4, 2006 in Mosul, Iraq
US Army Sergeant Israel Garcia
Died: July 13, 2008 in Wanat, Afghanistan
US Army Specialist Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda
Died: May 2, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq
US Army Private Ernesto R. Guerra
Died: July 29, 2005 in Baghdad, Iraq
US Army Private 1st Class David T. Toomalatai
Died: January 27, 2007 in Taji, Iraq
US Airforce Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell
Died: August 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan
US Marine Corps Private 1st Class George D. Torres
Died: April 11, 2004 in Anbar province, Iraq
US Army Staff Sergeant Joshua R. Whitaker
Died: May 15, 2007 in Qalat, Afghanistan
Marine Corps Lance Corporal Veashna Muy
Died: June 23, 2005 in Fallujah, Iraq