Presidio of San Francisco (May 27, 2010) -- The 142nd San Francisco Memorial Day Ceremony will take place at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio on Monday, May 31. Frequently drawing more than 2,500 people, the Presidio ceremony is one of the largest Memorial Day events in the nation. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, and ceremonies will honor the 54,000 Americans killed during that conflict.
"This 60-year tribute is important to me personally," says Wally Levin, a veteran of the Korean War and Ceremony coordinator of the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Presidio. "Most Korean War veterans won't be around for the 70th anniversary."
Events begin at 10:30 am with a parade 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 in the Cemetery at 11 am and will include a 21-gun salute and a special tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, including a wreath laying ceremony with the Consul General of Korea, Jeong-Gwan Lee.
Following WWII and the surrender of Japan, the Korean peninsula was divided by treaty along the 38th parallel, with United States troops occupying the southern part and Soviet troops occupying the northern part. The situation escalated into open warfare when the North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. The United Nations, led by the United States, came to the aid of the South Koreans in repelling the invasion. The initial mobile campaign transitioned to a border stalemate and ended in an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953. No peace treaty has ever been signed.
As in previous military conflicts, the Presidio provided support for departing and returning troops. The Letterman Army Hospital was a major center for care for casualties from the war. Over 8,000 veterans of the Korean War are buried in the National Cemetery. Their headstones are quiet reminders of the sacrifice and lasting contributions made by American soldiers to their country.
"The Memorial Day Ceremony is so important to the Presidio and its history of military service," said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director. "We are honored to host and support this annual event."
The 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 lead free walks through the cemetery up to the new National Cemetery Overlook, where light refreshments will be served.
A free Memorial Day shuttle will provide service from the Main Post to the National Cemetery beginning at 9 am and running through 1 pm.
For more information about the Presidio's Memorial Day Events visitwww.presidio.gov or call (415) 561-5418.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas overseen by the Trust include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The National Park Service oversees the coastal areas of the Presidio. The park comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to the Presidio's status as a National Historic Landmark District."