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Across the country, all the major branches of our armed services and their families have received special recognition during the month of May. This year promises to be more extensive than ever, with events, parades and commemorations.
The Senate first passed a resolution in 1999 formally designating May as National Military Appreciation Month. That declaration summoned U.S. citizens to observe the month "in a symbol of unity …to honor the current and former members of the armed forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom and peace."
The month culminates in the three-day Memorial Day weekend, commemorated by celebrations, parades, and memorial services established to honor all who serve. Please check your local communities for the updates and events, together with the National Military Appreciation Month Web site.
The Veterans Advantage editorial team has once again compiled its annual coverage of the activities. Highlights include:
Some 200 wounded active duty members and military veterans are competing in the inaugural Warrior Games May 10-14 in Colorado Springs, Colo., in conjunction with the USO, the U.S. Paralympics, and Department of Defense.[See how the USO covered the start of the event, thanks to the help of the Today Show and Rolling Thunder].
The U.S. Olympic Committee will host the games, and offer its training center in Colorado Springs as the site for the weeklong event, which will include shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
Athletes have been recruited from each of the military services, through an independent selection processes. Many have already participated in some kind of training with Paralympics coordinators, but will also train with Olympic and Paralympics coaches at the Olympic training facilities before the actual competitions.
The competition is open to military members and Veterans with bodily injuries as well as those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
The largest contingent of Athletes represent the Army with 100 soldiers chosen out of a pool of almost 9,000 wounded warriors followed by the Marine Corps which will send 50 competitors, the Air Force with 25, and the Coast Guard and Navy combining to send 25 more.
PGA TOUR: FIRST SPORT TO ORGANIZE A DAY OF HONOR
Speaking of sports, for the second year in a row, the PGA Tour continues its own military appreciation day at the TPC Championships on May 5. Country Music award winner Tim McGraw headlined a 5 p.m. ceremony to salute military families prior to the start of the tournament. The program included pageantry by military personnel, a color guard, the National Anthem and a flyover by the Blue Angels right up the 18th fairway.
“I can’t begin to sympathize with the immense sacrifice that our U.S. Military and their families make on a daily basis,” McGraw said.
Tournament organizers created the “Patriots Outpost” between the 16th and 18th holes and have invited those in the military to come out to the tournament for free. At the start of the tournament, active and retired military had already redeemed 29,000 tickets.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY PARADE
Motorcycle enthusiasts always circle Memorial Day weekend on their calendars, as May 30th is the XXIII Annual Rolling Thunder ride on Washington DC. Riders assemble in the North Pentagon Parking Lot at 8 am, and leave at noon to ride through our nation's capital to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Those staying in town through the weekend can attend the National Memorial Day Parade the next day (May 31st). The parade is organized as a marching timeline of American military history, with tributes to Veterans from every generation of military men and women, including the post-9/11 generation. This year, the parade will be honoring the men and women of the United States Marine Corps. Honorary Marshals include actors Gary Sinese and Joe Montegna, Military Marshal & Reviewing Officer General James Amos, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Grand Marshall Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This year’s parade will step off at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Streets, NW. It will proceed west down Constitution, past the White House, ending at 17th Street.
Up the Coast in New York City is Fleet Week.
New York City’s Annual Fleet Week begins this week and runs throughout Memorial Day week, May 26 – June 1. The Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, a Veterans Advantage charitable partner, is co-hosting many of the week’s activities in partnership with the City of New York.
The Museum will host over a dozen Navy and Coast Guard ships will visit New York Harbor for Fleet Week. In addition, there will be military ceremonies, parades, ship tours, sports events, a salute to Broadway and a Memorial Day ceremony capped by the unfurling of a 100-foot long American flag.
A Final Thought…
However you choose to celebrate this important month, please remember 3pm on May 31: The National Moment of Remembrance., established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause for one minute in an act of national unity. Please encourage all to participate.