The public is invited to attend Memorial Day ceremonies at more than 130 national cemeteries to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
"On Memorial Day, we honor the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation — and we pay our respects to the families and loved ones who mourn them and miss them dearly," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough in a release. "This Memorial Day weekend, we encourage all Americans to join us in remembering these fallen heroes at VA national cemeteries, where so many of them rest."
All VA national cemeteries will be open Memorial Day weekend from dawn to dusk. McDonough will preside over the wreath-laying at BG William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, on May 27, in Wrightstown, NJ. Acting VA Deputy Secretary Guy Kiyokawa will lay a wreath at Washington Crolling National Cemetery, on May 29, in Newtown, PA. Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Matt Quinn will address attendees at a wreath-laying and flag-placing event, on May 26 at Annapolis National Cemetery in Annapolis, MD, and will speak at the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, VA, on Memorial Day.
The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration maintains 155 national cemeteries and 34 soldiers' lots and monument sites in 44 states and Puerto Rico. VA's Veterans Cemetery Grant Program also funds 121 state, territorial and tribal cemeteries, many of which are also holding Memorial Day ceremonies.
Many locations will host volunteers who will place small American flags in front of veteran headstones in the days leading up to Memorial Day. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate in the removal and storage of flags in the days following Memorial Day.
Cemeteries with full staffs typically conduct wreath-laying ceremonies accompanied by patriotic speeches, music, a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. Additionally, 38 VA national cemeteries are featured stops along the 20,000-mile relay march hosted by Carry the Load across the country honoring fallen service members and first responders during the month leading up to Memorial Day.
The public can also honor a fallen service member by leaving a tribute on the Veterans Legacy Memorial site. It contains a memorial page for each of the more than 4.5 million veterans and service members interred in VA national cemeteries, VA grant-funded state, territorial or tribal veterans cemeteries, and certain National Park Service national cemeteries.
Live streaming, recorded video and photographs from many ceremonies will be shared on the NCA's social media. A complete list of Memorial Day events can be found here.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.