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Arbor Day Dedicated to Memory of Steinbacher

Items Solicited for Members of the Armed Forces

April 05, 2007|By Mary O'Keefe

LA CRESCENTA — This year's Annual Arbor Day event, held last Saturday at Two Strike Memorial Park, was a poignant celebration. Those in attendance were painfully reminded of the ultimate sacrifice a local family made, having lost their son who was serving in Iraq.

Hosted by Crescenta Valley Town Council and the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation, the day's focus was on Nick Steinbacher, a resident of La Crescenta who had been in Iraq only a short time when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by a road side bomb on December 10, 2006, ending his life at the age of 22.

Although somber in presentation, the day was a time not just to mourn the loss of a community hero but to celebrate this young man's love of life, dedication to his country and the honor that he has brought, not only to his family but to his hometown.

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The planting of a tree will be a living reminder of Nick Steinbacher. It will be planted in a "pocket park" that will soon be established on the southeast corner of Briggs Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.

"Like the mighty oak, it stands tall like Nick," said Paul Steinbacher, Nick's father.

From the beginning of the ceremony, with a helicopter fly over by Los Angeles City Fire Department and the somber tunes of a bagpiper, to the large turn out of community members, the Steinbacher family shared tears and laughter as dignitaries like Supervisor Mike Antonovich and close friends like Alan Eberhart, Nick's former football coach, spoke of Nick's life and what his death had meant to everyone that knew him.

Cliff Jones, a local woodcarver/artist, relayed a story told to him by a friend about his last encounter with Nick before he went off to Iraq. Nick told him that if he did not, for some reason, come back he wanted everyone to know that he went over there to fight the "bad guys" so we wouldn't have to fight them here on our shores.

Jones was one of the hundreds of residents that had lined the streets in silent tribute to Nick during his funeral precession last December.

"A day after the funeral, I was going down Honolulu Avenue and found eight flags that had been left on the sidewalk by community members that had come out to honor Nick," Jones said.

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