To most working Americans, Memorial Day is a welcome day off, the lazy end of a relaxing, long weekend and the unofficial beginning of the summer vacation season. It is marked with backyard barbeques, family get-togethers and – lately – the viewing of sporting events on big HDTVs.
But, for veterans and their families, Memorial Day is a very special day of solemn remembrance and celebration of the America they and their fallen comrades have fought to preserve.
In and around the nation’s capital, The American Legion is observing the Memorial Day weekend with a number of appearances and activities:
• From Friday morning through Monday evening, volunteers from the Legion’s Washington office will be staffing an informational booth on the National Mall near the Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Women’s Memorials. Staffers will pass out Legion brochures, provide VA benefit information, and give tokens of appreciation to veterans and other interested passersby.
• Beginning Friday night, Legion Riders from Illinois to Virginia will lend the rumble of their mostly Milwaukee-born, V-twin motorcycle engines to the chrome-plated, black leather, chin whisker and blue smoke-decorated weekend spectacle that is Rolling Thunder. With nearly a half million motorcyclists participating, Rolling Thunder’s parade laps around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Pentagon are awesome in both sight and sound.
• On Memorial Day itself, Vietnam veteran and National Vice Commander William Schrier, a long way from his Pacific Northwest home in the “other” Washington, will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and participate in a similar observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (otherwise known as The Wall).
• Nearby, in Virginia’s Quantico National Cemetery, Executive Director Peter Gaytan of the Legion’s Washington, D.C. headquarters will deliver the keynote address at a Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the Potomac Region Veterans Council.
• Meanwhile, the Legion’s Legislative Division director, Tim Tetz, will appear on a special hour-long CNN Memorial Day broadcast. It will air in both the 9 a.m. and noon hours (EDT).