VENTURA, Calif. -

For nearly two decades, Veterans Day and Memorial Day Ceremonies at Ivy Lawn Cemetery in Ventura have included a symbolic dove release.

People are mourning the owner of the White Dove Service.

Steve "Smitty" Smith died after a year-long battle with cancer this month.

His story was recorded by StoryCorps to be filed in the Library of Congress.

Smith raised the pure white birds in his Oxnard Back yard. They are actually homing pigeons from the dove family.

After a ceremony several miles away, neighbors could see the birds return to the bird condos where they lived.

Smith and his partner Tony Silerio were known for volunteering their services for patriotic and school events.