Presidio of San Francisco (May 24, 2013) – Max Cleland, Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will speak at the 145th San Francisco Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 27, at 11 am, at the National Cemetery in the Presidio. This year’s ceremony will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and pay special tribute to seven World War II veterans. One of the largest Memorial Day events in the nation, the Presidio ceremony regularly draws more than 2,500 people.
“It is a high honor to be here to pay tribute to those American servicemen and women whose blood gave us freedom, whose courage moved us to greatness and who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” says Cleland, who was severely wounded in Vietnam “I am proud to have served with them.”
Events begin at 10:30 am with a grand march of veterans and distinguished guests from the Presidio’s Main Post Parade Ground (Montgomery St. and Sheridan Ave.) to the cemetery at 1 Lincoln Boulevard. The formal ceremony begins at 11:00 am and will include a 21-gun salute; remarks by Secretary Cleland, Congresswoman Pelosi and a special presentation from the government of France honoring World War II veterans. Consul General Romain Serman will bestow France’s highest distinction, the Knights of the Legion of Honor, on seven American veterans who fought on French territory.
“With not one shot fired in anger from its cannons, the Presidio is a place rich with military history and service.” Leader Pelosi said. “As we honor the veterans of the Korean War and World War II in the Presidio this Memorial Day, we recommit to honoring every day the men and women in uniform who make our country the land of the free and home of the brave – those who return home forever changed and those who make the ultimate sacrifice.”
This year’s ceremony is being dedicated to General William Dean, the highest ranking prisoner of war in the Korean War, who later served as Deputy Commanding General of the Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio. Dean is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery.
Lasting from 1950 to 1953, the Korean War led to the growth of the U.S. Army from 600,000 troops to 1.5 million, and with it an increase in responsibilities for the Sixth Army at the Presidio and an expansion of the post. As in previous conflicts, the Presidio provided training and support for departing and returning troops. The Letterman Army Hospital was a major care center, treating the sick and wounded arriving by hospital ship. More than 54,000 Americans died in the fighting. More than 8,000 veterans of the war are buried at National Cemetery.
“The Presidio Trust is honored to host this important annual ceremony that brings us together to reflect and pay tribute to those that have sacrificed for our nation”, said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director.
National Cemetery in the Presidio is a designated National Historic Landmark, dating back to the 1846 war with Mexico. More than 35,000 veterans and their dependents are buried there. It has long been a tradition for the Boy Scouts to decorate each grave in the cemetery with an American flag on Memorial Day. Following the ceremony, the Presidio Trust and National Park Service Rangers will offer free, half-hour tours of the cemetery, which will include a stop at General Dean’s gravesite.
Parking at the Main Post is free on holidays, and a free Memorial Day shuttle will provide service between the Main Post and the National Cemetery beginning at 9:30am and running until 2:00pm. For more information about the Presidio’s Memorial Day events visit www.presidio.gov or call 415-561-5300.
The Presidio Trust is a distinctive federal agency created to save and transform the Presidio of San Francisco, a historic American place steeped in service. The Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio, a former army base and new urban national park site located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, over 2,700 people live in the park’s former military housing, and more than 200 organizations have located in Presidio buildings, attracted by the Presidio’s beauty and historic significance. Under the Trust’s management, the Presidio has been transformed into a stunning visitor destination with an extensive system of trails and scenic overlooks; rehabilitated historic buildings; programs that teach about the Presidio’s military history and natural resources, and tenants and residents who help to sustain the park. To learn more about the Trust visit www.presidio.gov.