As a member of the city’s Recreation and Parks staff, I was asked to uncover why included "Memorial" in its title. There was already an old plaque near the basketball courts that mentioned the American Legion and its planting of trees in the park, but this plaque had yet to be connected to Roxbury's memorial history. That 1932 plaque, however, was the starting point for my research.
The May 30, 1932 plaque reads:
These evergreen elms planted in memory of departed comrades. For God & Country - American Legion, Beverly Hills Post 253.
A microfiche investigation of Roxbury Memorial Park's history in The Beverly Hills Citizen's early editions of 1954 provided further data that led to a patriotic re-memorializing of the park in 1999, as well as the grand opening of its updated playground a year later.
The 1932 plaque was moved to a new stone memorial built at the northeast corner of the park. Another commemoration plaque was carefully crafted in 1999 and placed above the one made in 1932.
The 1999 plaque reads:
On May 30, 1932, the Beverly Hills American Legion Post #253 began planting Chinese Elm trees in the park to honor its members who had died since the post's founding in 1926. These memorial trees line a pathway that is known as 'Memory Lane.'
The 1999 plaque further reads, "Under the leadership of Beverly Hills Mayor Harold L. George, a retired Air Force Lt. General, the City Council passed a resolution on July 20, 1954, officially changing the park's name to Roxbury Memorial Park. Roxbury Memorial Park is a living memorialization and lasting tribute to all who have served this country with honor in time of duty. Memorial Day, May 1999."
For the city's 1999 Memorial Day celebration, I was asked to create a re-memorialization day program. A "Memory Lane" pathway sign was erected denoting the walkway with the memorial Chinese Elm trees planted in 1932. During the 1999 ceremonies, a Chinese Elm was planted next to the park's new memorial stone. Two leaders of the California American Legion addressed the approximately 250 residents attending with words of praise for our city's Memorial Day activities. Actor Hugh O'Brian spoke of the value of patriotism. The Beverly Hills Symphony, under the leadership of Debbie Grossman, provided music and a bag piper. Marrina Waks brought her "Children of the World Choir," with the kids wearing clothing from several different countries. Then all guests were invited to the Roxbury Community Center for a complementary lunch.
This is the type of reverence for our city's rich history that may bring us even more identity and devotion to it. Please check out the photos that represent what Roxbury Memorial Park means to Beverly Hills.
Thank you for reading this presentation. Russ