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VA Remembers America's Fallen on Memorial Day

men and boys of various ages marching in a memorial day parade.  The words honor the brave are added below

Honor the brave Memorial Day, May 30, 1917.
Library of Congress

By Hans Petersen
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day originally honored the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

It is a day when people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

And I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me. Lee Greenwood

One of VA’s many special ceremonies scheduled for Memorial Day will take place in West Virginia. The Martinsburg VA Medical Center and the Winchester National Cemetery will conduct the first Memorial Day ceremony there in over 20 years. The ceremony will be attended by community partners, local schools and Veterans from the area.

The Memorial Day Ceremony will feature guest speakers Timothy J. Cooke, Martinsburg VA Medical Center Director and Robert Morris from the National Cemetery Administration.

Local school children will be placing flags in the morning at each grave site.

Winchester National Cemetery in West Virginia in 1905
Winchester National Cemetery in West Virginia today

The cemetery was established during the Civil War and officially dedicated on April 8, 1866.

The cemetery is almost five acres bordered by a stone wall, and was used for burials in early 1862 then transferred to the United States government in 1870. There are 14 monuments in the cemetery with the oldest dating back to 1864.

Union soldiers buried there fought on nearby battlefields, including Nickers Gap, the Battle of Front Royal, and the Battle of Harpers Ferry. One section has 2,338 burials for unknown Union soldiers.

View a complete list of 2015 Memorial Day Events at VA National Cemeteries.