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VA Recognizes Military Sacrifices on Memorial Day

Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2009 – From parades to somber ceremonies and a moment of silence, Americans will recall the sacrifices of military members who paid the ultimate price for freedom on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.

“From May 23 to May 30, commemorative events at VA national cemeteries will present a sacred responsibility for employees and volunteers to honor these greatest of American heroes,” Steve Muro, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs said. “Since the birth of Memorial Day in 1866, national cemeteries have been the most visible expression of our country’s gratitude for their service.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue its annual tradition of hosting services at most of its national cemeteries and many other facilities nationwide. The programs, which are the focus of Memorial Day events in many communities, honor the service of deceased Veterans and people who die on active duty.

For the dates and times of Memorial Day programs at VA national cemeteries, visit www.cem.va.gov.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend activities at VA's national cemeteries, with color guards, readings, bands and choir performances. The events will honor about one million men and women who died in wartime periods, including about 655,000 battle deaths.

Some national cemetery observances are unique. At VA’s most active cemetery, in Riverside, Calif., volunteers have been reading aloud -- since Armed Forces Day, May 17 -- the names of more than 150,000 veterans buried there, and are expected to continue at least until the Memorial Day program. In one-hour shifts around the clock, 500 volunteers – two to four at a time -- alternate reading the names.

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