Friday, May 23, 2008

America Recognizes Military Sacrifices on Memorial Day
Veterans Urged to Wear Medals with Pride




WASHINGTON (May 23, 2008) - From concerts to somber ceremonies and a
moment of silence, Americans from coast to coast will recall the
sacrifices of military members who paid the ultimate price for freedom
on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.

"This is our nation's day to remember its debt to those whose sacrifice
in blood and battle secured a legacy of liberty for future generations,"
said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake.

He reminded veterans to wear their military medals on Memorial Day, a
practice called the Veterans Pride Initiative launched by the Department
of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2006.

The personal exhibition of service medals on patriotic holidays is one
way for veterans to show their support of the U.S. military and
particularly those serving in the Global War on Terror, and to inspire
conversation about military heritage with young people.

Information for veterans about the wearing of medals and how to replace
lost medals is available at http://www.va.gov/veteranspride/.

A tradition dating to the 19th Century after the Civil War and
originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is marked at VA
facilities across the country, especially VA's national cemeteries,
whose commemorative events honor about 1 million American men and women
who died in service during wartime periods, including more than 651,000
battle deaths.

This year, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend activities at
VA's national cemeteries, with color guards, ceremonies honoring
decorated veterans, and band and choir performances.

Some national cemeteries will feature an "Avenue of Flags" flanking both
sides of the curb line, usually along the main entrance road, sometimes
consisting of burial flags donated by the next of kin of veterans who
are buried in these national shrines. Other national cemeteries may
place individual flags at gravesites.

VA's 125 national cemeteries include 10 opened in the past nine years.
Another six cemeteries are under development. VA currently maintains
17,000 acres where 2.8 million gravesites are located. By 2010,
veterans burial space is expected to be available to 90 percent of
veterans within 75 miles of where they live.

Directions to VA's national cemeteries and a guide to their Memorial Day
activities are available at
http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/2008MemorialDay.asp. General information
about Memorial Day, including its history, a commemorative poster and
activities links, may be found at
http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/.

VA is a cosponsor with the White House Commission on Remembrance of an
annual Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. Eastern time, nationwide on
Memorial Day, a time to pause and reflect on the valor of the fallen and
the bond of freedoms that unite Americans. Many institutions will pause
their activities -- from sporting events to announcements in public
facilities -- to call the nation together to share its common bond in
silence.