Virginia Beach to pay tribute on Memorial Day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - "A Day of Remembrance and Thankfulness" will be celebrated as the Virginia Beach Mayor's Veterans Committee commemorate Memorial Day with a 5-Hour Citizens Vigil on Monday, May 28 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Tidewater Veterans Memorial on 19th Street in Virginia Beach.

This year the City of Virginia Beach will pay special tribute to the 17 sailors killed in the bombing of the USS COLE, the 18 Air National Guardsmen of the 203d RED HORSE Flight, and the three Florida Army National Guardsmen, who were killed in a place crash in Unadilla, Georgia earlier this year, at a special ceremony to be held Monday, May 28, 2001 from 11 a.m. - noon, at the Tidewater Veterans Memorial in Virginia Beach.

Remarks will be made by Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf, along with Commander Kevin Sweeney of the USS COLE, Major General Claude A. Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia, Virginia Army National Guard, and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Turlip, Commander of the 203d RED HORSE Flight, Camp Pendleton, Va.

Two granite markers bearing the names of the sailors of the USS COLE and soldiers of the 203d RED HORSE Flight who perished will be dedicated at the ceremony. The City has already planted two trees in the Veterans Garden, located behind the memorial, as a living memorial to honor these courageous men and women.

Following the dedication ceremony, the annual Memorial Day ceremony will begin at noon with a 21 Gun Salute and message by guest speaker, RADM Michael D. Malone, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet. At 1 p.m., weather permitting, a flyover will occur including Navy F-14's and F-18's from NAS Oceana; and a Coast Guard C-130 and HH60 helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Station, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 48, will provide a 21 gun salute on each hour during the vigil.

This year’s program will also include a special tribute to recognize the 60th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the 51st Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, and the 15 young men from Oceana High School who lost their lives in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. A alumnus from Oceana High School will bring a flag forward with the students name on it to be placed at the memorial.

Military personnel, their families and all citizens are invited to participate. American flags will be provided for citizens to plant around the base of the memorial. The flags will remain in place for one week. Veteran, fraternal and auxiliary groups are also encouraged to participate by laying wreaths in memory of veterans or in honor of current members of the military.

The Tidewater Veterans Memorial stands in tribute to veterans of all wars and current military personnel. Six years under design and construction, it was completed in 1988, and has received awards for design and public art. The memorial is located on 19th Street, across from the Pavilion Convention Center with ample parking available.

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