Since 1868, the U.S. has mourned, honored and remembered its military members by pausing to reflect on their life and sacrifice. COVID-19 restrictions have not prevented organizations from planning a range of opportunities to continue this observance in 2021. Here is a list of upcoming events to honor the fallen this Memorial Day.
Nearly 13,000 American Legion posts have individual chapter plans to celebrate Memorial Day, said Bill Oxford, National Commander. Some events will be virtual, while others will be held in-person. Given that Legion members number nearly 3 million, participation — that includes community organizations like Boy Scouts and local schools — will likely be strong, Oxford adds.
“I would like to see some of the stuff that’s going on around the country be laid aside and realize that we’re still one America, and we have a duty to come together,” he said.
Click here to find local American Legion Memorial Day events.
A military-focused nonprofit, Project 33 Memorial Foundation, is honoring Staff Sgt. Timothy Conneway, an Army Ranger who served in the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, with its fourth annual 6.8-mile Memorial Day run in Hamburg, New York. The 2021 honoree died on June 28, 2003 from wounds sustained from an explosive device that detonated and struck his vehicle on June 26, during an operation in Baghdad, Iraq, according to Project 33’s website.
Samantha Gomolka, the organization’s secretary, explained that the odd mileage of the run starts on the beach and ends at a brewery — a fitting way to honor and celebrate the nation’s fallen.
“The meaning of our run is to say Timothy’s name and remember,” Gomolka said. “We anticipate hundreds of runners, not only in Hamburg, but around the country through virtual participation.”
The proceeds, at the request of Conneway’s teen son, will go to Feed Our Vets. Chris Yaw, Project 33’s Vice President, anticipates surpassing last year’s fundraising record of $10,000.
“I hope people stop and realize this Memorial Day that it doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture,” he said. “We need to carve out a period of time to think about what these men and women went through.”
Register for the 4th annual Memorial Day run.
The Unquiet Professional
Gold Star wife Krista Simpson Anderson has devoted her work to gaining awareness of the lives of the fallen, rather than just focusing on their deaths. She founded The Unquiet Professional (TUP) after losing her husband Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson, a Special Forces Green Beret.
In 2021, Anderson and TUP will host the fourth annual Virtual Memorial Mile, a nationwide walk/run/bike/swim that remembers three service members killed in the war on terror: Army Spc. John Pelham, Air Force Maj. Philip Ambard, and Navy SEAL Patrick Feeks.
“I hope people in every corner of the country remember why it’s so important to gather with our family and friends,” Anderson said. “For Gold Star families, this is the one weekend a year that everybody is thinking about our person.”
Visit The Unquiet Professional to participate in this year’s #TUPMile.
Rolling Thunder’s laser-sharp focus has always been on drawing attention to the POW-MIA issue. This Memorial Day weekend, it will host thousands of bikers at the 33rd “Ride for Freedom” motorcycle rally on May 30, across several states, including Florida, New Jersey, and Ohio. It’s a major change after 32 years based in Washington, D.C.
Rolling Thunder’s National Media Chair says the shift was made to reach even more Americans with the message that our missing and prisoners of war are still vitally important.
“We will again come together and pay tribute to more than 81,000 Americans classified as Prisoners-Of-War/Missing-In-Action, demanding an accountability when and where possible for each and every lost American soul,” Mike Maloney said. “On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the more than 1 million fellow Americans who have perished fighting for America, her way of life as we know it today.”
For more information, visit Ride for Freedom.
Arlington National Cemetery
According to the Virginia cemetery’s website, the famed Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has reopened to the public on a limited basis. A one-way pedestrian route can accommodate 150 people simultaneously to pay their respects. Details of official Memorial Day events at the ANC were not available at the time of reporting.
For those looking for a virtual way to pay respects, walking tours are available through the ANC website.