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America’s VA Medical Centers Mark Memorial Day

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A girl places a USA flag by a soldier's grave marker

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” President John F. Kennedy

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it was originally designed to commemorate the soldiers who died in the Civil War. Today, Memorial Day has been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

VA Medical Centers across the nation mark the day in many ways. Here are just a few.

Three Veterans stand by some ornate columns

Co-Chairs of the Veterans Advocacy Council, (left to right), Air Force Veteran Anthony J. Williams, Army Veteran Harbell Ford and Peer Specialist Army Veteran Anthony Stamatorous at The Pavilion in New York City that provided a pre-Memorial Day luncheon for 75 out-patients.

New York City

VA New York Harbor Healthcare System’s Manhattan Campus held a great Pre-Memorial Day Appreciation Luncheon for 75 Veterans in their Clubhouse Psychosocial Mental Health program on May 22.

On holidays, a feast is usually prepared by staff and Volunteers in-house. For this Memorial Day, it was provided by a neighborhood organization called the Union Square Partnership and was prepared by The Pavilion, a restaurant housed in a landmark NYC Department of Parks Building at Union Square Park.

The event included a Veterans appreciation ceremony and also served as a one-year celebration, marking a return to normalcy following the devastation to the hospital caused by Super Storm Sandy.

Flood damage to VA’s Manhattan campus required the temporary displacement of all hospital services to other Harbor facilities for months.

An elderly Veteran sitting at a table takes a program from a woman

Bataan Death March survivor Glenn Frazier, 92, signs autograph at Memorial Day event in Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

On Monday, May 19, the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, hosted and honored ten Veterans who are:

  • Medal of Honor recipients
  • Tuskegee Airmen
  • Navajo Code Talkers
  • Ex-POWs
  • Pearl Harbor survivors

The Veterans were in Jackson as part of the Trail of Honor event. Over 300 people attended the short ceremony after which the honored guests signed autographs. The Trail of Honor is in its 12th year and started out as a stop for the riders on their way to DC to visit the Vietnam Wall. It is now a popular four-day event which features historically accurate demonstrations of military life on a walking trail through history. It drew over 30,000 visitors last year.

engraved black granite stones stand outside a medical center building

Northport, New York

The VA Medical Center in Northport, New York, will begin the Memorial Day Weekend with the dedication of the Wall of Wars Memorial.

After almost two years of hard work and deliberation, four tons of black granite stones laser etched with imagery from American wars came together in 2011 to form Northport VAMC’s Wall of Wars monument. After seeing the beautiful imagery of the first stone placed, the Vietnam War panel, others were quickly sponsored by generous and patriotic donors across Long Island. In January 2014, the last of 12 stones were placed. Now the monument stands as a lasting tribute to the men and women who fought for our nation’s independence and freedom.

The memorial is a gift of Chapter 11 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Disabled American Veterans, and Northport VAMC community partners and friends. All four Long Island Congressional representatives will be speaking at the May 23 dedication and the National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans will attend.

 We will not forget them, as those whom we hold dear remain forever in our hearts. 

Moment of Remembrance

Please join those of us from VA and Americans everywhere for the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. During that moment, individuals across the U.S. will pause for one minute, in unity and gratitude, for those who have given their lives in service to our Nation.

With cherished memories, we will not forget them, as those whom we hold dear remain forever in our hearts.

For the dates and times of Memorial Day weekend programs at VA national cemeteries, visit the National Cemetery Administration’s site.