|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Once again this year, VVA chapters nationwide sponsored or took part in events commemorating Memorial Day during the last weekend in May. Here’s a rundown on some of those events honoring the memory of men and women in uniform who died in service to America.
Mississippi Coast Chapter 1150 joined with a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter and other local organizations to host a Memorial Day observance at the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs. The memorial features two black granite walls facing each other, engraved with the names of the 668 Mississippians who lost their lives in the war.
Jefferson County, Wisconsin, Blackhawk Chapter 409 joined other local VSOs, Gold Star Mothers, and JROTC cadets in a series of Memorial Day activities, including graveside remembrances at local cemeteries, a community breakfast, and a parade, culminating with the main ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Atkinson. Chapter 409 member Steve Swader helped decorate the cemetery’s War Memorial Monument for the ceremony.
Members of Northern Virginia Chapter 227 once again this year placed a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., at 8:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, then met for breakfast at a diner in Arlington, Virginia. Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 and Petaluma Chapter 563 joined with several other veterans organizations and the local Elks Club to sponsor a Memorial Day Observance at Cypress Hill Memorial Park in Petaluma.
Once again this year, Rockland County, New York, Chapter 333 held its Memorial Day Watchfires at four locations, starting at midnight. The ceremonial fires burned for 24 hours at Bowline Park in Haverstraw, Eugene Park in Ramapo, Piermont Pier in Piermont, and Clausland Mountain in Sparkill. The chapter has held the Watchfire ceremonies—modeled on Revolutionary War signal fires—since 1987. “We decided the watch fires should be on the traditional Memorial Day and not require a band, fireworks, or an audience other than those who understood” their meaning of honoring veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country, said Jerry Donnellan, the chapter’s founder.
Fresno, California, Chapter 933 held its 34th annual Memorial Day Sunrise Service at Woodward Park in northeast Fresno. The service, which began at 5:45 a.m., is “an honest expression of our concern for the families, for those who are lost, and for the souls who were lost defending our freedom,” former Chapter President Jim Doyle told a local TV station following the event.
Heart of Texas Chapter 1012 hosted its annual Sunset Memorial Day Ceremony on May 26 at the Waco Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the banks of the Brazos River to honor the 83 service members from McLennan County who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Their names are etched on one of the memorial’s three panels under the inscription, “The Sacrifices of Those We Honor Make This Hallowed Ground—Let us Strive to Reunite and Heal.”
Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted its annual Memorial Day ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. at the famed Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort. Chapter President Gregory M. Bethards presided over the solemn program, which included a presentation of the colors, the placing of memorial wreaths, and participation by members of the Franklin County High School Marine Corps JROTC.
Greenville, North Carolina, Chapter 272 coordinated the placement by more than 100 local Boy Scouts of more than 3,000 American flags on veterans’ gravesites at seven Pitt County cemeteries on Saturday, May 27. The Scouts met at chapter headquarters and fanned out. Before they set out, Chapter President Levi Clemons told the Scouts: “If it weren’t for you guys, this wouldn’t be possible. We have a lot of ailments—back, knee, whatever you can think of.” Added chapter member Guy Miller: “We’ve gotten too old to place the flags.” But the Scouts “taking part in this will remember all their lives that they assisted us in serving the veterans lying in honor in Pitt County.”
Clermont County, Ohio, Chapter 649 held its 31st annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that the chapter dedicated in 1993 in Union Township Veteran’s Memorial Park. Things began at 6:00 a.m. with a reading of the names of local service members who died in Vietnam. The ceremonies at the memorial, which features a surplus Huey helicopter mounted on two 12-foot walls, began at 2:00 p.m. and included the presentation of the colors by the Union Township Police Department Honor Guard and “Taps” played by a local high school student, Trenton Seibert.
Paducah, Kentucky, Chapter 337 held its 39th annual evening Memorial Day service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Dolly McNutt Plaza in downtown Paducah. Savannah, Georgia, Chapter 671, hosted its annual Memorial Day ceremonies on May 28 at that city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Emmet Park. The memorial honors the 106 service members from Chatham County who died in Vietnam or remain missing in action.
Medina County, Ohio, Chapter 385 hosted its annual Memorial Day ceremonies at the County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Chapter members read the names of the 33 local service members who died in Vietnam, along with the names of others from Medina County who died in uniform. As the names were read, chapter members placed a small American flag at the memorial and a bell rang to honor each name.
Athol, Massachusetts, Chapter 340 President Ed Laford led the Pledge of Allegiance at Memorial Day ceremonies at Silver Like Cemetery in Athol, Massachusetts, honoring those who gave their lives serving in every American war dating back to the Revolutionary War.
The Marquette County, Michigan, Chapter 380 Scholarship Committee recently selected the four recipients of $750 chapter scholarships: Kenneth J. Hagle IV of Commerce Township, the grandson of chapter member Kenneth Hagle, Jr.; Madacyn Helstein of Ishpeming, the great-niece of chapter member Gary Helstein; Chase Bonovetz of Negaunee, the grandson of Army veteran Robert Linn; and Ryan Kerkela of Negaunee, the grandson of Army veteran David Kurtz. Applicants must be directly related to a veteran to be eligible to be considered for a scholarship.
Leominster, Massachsetts, Chapter 116 recently presented six students with scholarship awards in a ceremony at the Memorial Circle in the city’s Carter Park. The scholarship recipients are Danae Neuhaus, Megan Dube, Katelyn Chiurri, Gavin Robillard, Ella Parisi, and Sarah Potter. Parisi received the Paul Kalill Memorial Scholarship.
The Villages, Florida, Chapter 1036 recently presented $2,000 scholarships to Brooke Galloway and Anna Brock of Villages High School and ShaKira Huff and Rose Perry of Wildwood Middle School. The winners were chosen based on their essays explaining the role a veteran plays in their lives. “I’d like to challenge you to serve your community and serve your nation, whether that be military service, police, fire, or government service,” Chapter Present Rick Rademacher told the students after presenting them with their scholarships and a challenge coin. “We served out country, and we continue to serve in this chapter.”
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