Skip to Content

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System to Host Annual Memorial Day Ceremony


May 25, 2022

BAY PINES , FL — The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) will host the first in-person Memorial Day ceremony since 2019 at the Bay Pines National Cemetery on May 30 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be conducted rain or shine, so please plan appropriately for inclement weather.

“Memorial Day at the Bay Pines VA is a highly anticipated, somber, and meaningful event for our Veterans, staff, and the surrounding community,” said Paul M. Russo, MHSA, FACHE, RD, director of BPVAHCS. “After the uncertainty and turmoil of the past few years, I am honored to be able to come together again and draw from our camaraderie as we grieve the loss, and celebrate the legacies, of the ones who gave the ultimate measure, and those who suffered physical and mental disability, for our freedom.”

Veterans, their loved ones, and the general public are all welcome to attend this ceremony. The Bay Pines National Cemetery is the only one in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the largest public observance of Memorial Day in the area, with more than 3,000 people attending annually.

“Here at the National Cemetery, we have the distinct honor of ensuring that a Veteran’s final resting place is reflective of the honor they earned and deserve,” said Douglas Maddox, director of the Bay Pines National Cemetery. “We are glad to help support this well-deserved and long overdue recognition of America’s heroes in a face-to-face manner.”

Guest speakers for the event include local leaders from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office, and the Bay Pines National Cemetery, as well as U.S. Representative Charlie Crist, 13th Congressional District of Florida.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. (retired) Randall West will serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Maj. Gen. West began his distinguished career in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, where he proudly served for 35 years. He completed his tenure at the Pentagon, serving under the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. 

After retirement, he continued to serve our country as a consultant to the Pentagon and Congress. Additionally, Maj. Gen. West built Patriots Four, a campground in the Cheat River Valley in West Virginia that provides free recreational activities to our wounded American Heroes.

Those who wish to attend the ceremony must participate in a brief COVID-19 risk screening prior to gaining access to the campus. To access VA’s easy to use screening tool, please text the word screen to 53079. During the ceremony, socially distanced seating will be provided, and the venue is handicapped accessible. Parking for the event will be available nearby and shuttles will be available to transport guests from the parking lots to the National Cemetery. For driving directions to the National Cemetery, please click here.

To stay up to date about what’s happening within our healthcare system, please be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

See all news releases