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Memorial Day’s Meaning and History

Memorial Day commemorates all men and women who died in the U.S. military service. It’s not to be confused with Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of U.S. military veterans, or with Armed Forces Day, which honors men and women currently serving. Memorial Day began a few years after the Civil War, in 1868. An organization of Union veterans established the holiday, known as Decoration Day, as a time to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. From then until present day, the solemn holiday has been formally observed at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The holiday began as a way to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War, but the day now honors all U.S. veterans who sacrificed their lives. Remember to fly your American Flag at half-staff on Memorial Day, from sunrise till noon. Return the flag to full-staff at noon.

VFW Memorial Day Remembrance

“Comrades, I would like to remind each and every one of you of the somber reason for Memorial Day,” said Hal Roesch, VFW Commander-in-Chief. “We must not forget the service members buried in hollowed grounds throughout the country and around the world. For many in our nation, this Memorial Day weekend will be like a breath of fresh air, as more and more of this past year’s restrictions are lifted across the U.S., marking a moment of needed relief for many of our fellow Americans. While there is an air of elation around us, let us take time to give pause, reflect and honor our fallen brothers and sisters, reminding everyone of the selfless sacrifices that secured the freedoms we enjoy. May we continue to honor their legacy, living lives worthy of those who laid down their lives for us.”

Memorial Day Ceremonies in Nation’s Capitol

This year, Memorial Day ceremonies are not open to the general public but will be streamed virtually. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will be hosting a small in-person ceremony at The Wall which can be watched online at 1 p.m. Monday, May 31. The National Memorial Day Concert will not be held in person again this year, but there will be a special presentation with new performances and tributes. The 2021 National Memorial Day concert will be live at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 30, on PBS, PBS.org, YouTube, and Facebook. You can also enjoy the National Memorial Day Parade which will air over Memorial Day weekend on American Forces Network, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and CW affiliate stations nationwide.

VA to Review Previously Denied Blue Water Claims

As a result of a recent U.S. district court case, VA is automatically reviewing the cases of veterans who were previously denied service connection for one or more conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. Previous denials based on military service not performed in the Republic of Vietnam or on its inland waterways will have the evidence of record reviewed and replacement decisions provided. These reviews will also apply to eligible survivors of deceased Vietnam-era veterans. We encourage affected veterans to contact their VFW Department Service Officer with any questions or concerns they may have or if they may be interested in filing a claim.

VFW-Supported Legislation Passes House

On Tuesday, the House passed VFW-supported H.R.1510, the Veterans’ Camera Reporting Act; H.R. 2494, to establish a fourth administration in VA; and H.R. 2441, the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act. H.R. 1510 would provide a review of VA’s policies and procedures on camera placement, surveillance, equipment maintenance, data storage, and any gaps or barriers VA faces in providing a sense of security and trust to veterans, their families, and VA staff. H.R. 2494 would establish the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration to oversee programs for vocational rehabilitation, employment, education assistance, veterans’ housing loans, veteran-owned business, and the transition assistance program. H.R. 2441 would expand VA’s Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) program and assess the mental health needs of rural and highly rural veterans.

Walk-in COVID-19 Vaccines Available at VA

Eligible veterans, spouses, and caregivers nationwide can walk into their local VA facility’s vaccine clinic to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Veterans not enrolled in VA care should pre-register online at least one hour before arrival to save time. The expanded access to the COVID-19 vaccine at VA is a result of the SAVE LIVES Act.

POW/MIA Update

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, of Pilsen, Kansas, served in the Korean War with the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On Nov. 2, 1950, his unit was near Unsan when they came under heavy fire from Chinese forces and received orders to withdraw. Kapaun will be buried on Sept. 29, 2021, in Wichita, Kansas.

Navy Fireman 2nd Class Carl M. Bradley, 19, of Shelley, Idaho, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on June 26, 2021, in his hometown.

Navy Musician 2nd Class Charlton H. Ferguson, 19, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on July 9, 2021, at the NMCP.

Navy Fireman 1st Class William D. Tucker, 19, of Bedford, Iowa, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on June 30, 2021, in his hometown.

Naval Reserve Cmdr. Paul C. Charvet, 26, was the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider airplane assigned to Attack Squadron 215 aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. During a mission near Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam, his plane disappeared in an area of low cloud cover and fog a kilometer northeast of Hon Me Island. His remains were not recovered after a search of the area. Charvet was considered missing in action until Dec. 2, 1977, when his status was changed to “Presumed Killed in Action.” Interment services are pending.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Robert J. Harr, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Everett C. Titterington, 21, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Leaman R. Dill, 25, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class Raymond D. Boynton, 19, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.

 

– Charles Castelluccio

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