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For the fourth year in a row, 7,300 flags will blanket the grounds of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park throughout Memorial Day weekend to represent the average number of United States veterans who have lost their battle with PTSD per year, an average of 22 per day.
From May 27-29, walk or drive by the Naval Park to see the installation, made possible by the Battle Within Foundation. The flags will be installed by Medford Boy Scout Troop 350, who will be traveling by train from Minnesota.
"It is our sincerest hope that this display of flags will, in some small way, help educate the public to this ongoing tragedy, provide a lifeline to the suffering, and honor our heroes for their service, regardless of where they died," said Dr. Mark Donnelly, The Battle Within Foundation president.
In addition to the flag installation on the grounds of the Veterans Memorial Gardens, the Buffalo Naval Park will also host numerous ceremonies and programs to honor and remember those who fought for our freedom and made the ultimate sacrifice. These ceremonies are free and open to the public.
On Saturday, May 27, the United States Submarine Veterans Buffalo Base will hold a “Tolling the Boats” ceremony near USS Croaker to honor those who gave their lives while serving aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
The Naval Park will host a movie night aboard USS Little Rock at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 28, with a special screening of the 1944 film, “The Fighting Sullivans,” based on the lives of the five Sullivans brothers. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the movie will begin immediately following a pre-film presentation. The event is free to attend, but a ticket is required, as space is limited. Tickets are available at www.buffalonavalpark.org/visit/buy-tickets/.
Memorial Day ceremonies will kick off Monday, May 29, with an outdoor musical performance by the Buffalo Brass Quartet at 9:30 a.m. near the Vietnam Memorial. Immediately following the performance, at 10 a.m., the Buffalo Naval Park and The Battle Within Foundation will present a nondenominational memorial service with full military honors in remembrance of our fallen. The keynote speaker will be 2-Star Rear Admiral (Ret.) Len Kaine, a U.S. Navy “Top Gun” pilot and philanthropist.
Pastor Paul Emory, chaplain for the Medaille College campus ministry program, will present the nondenominational memorial service. Opera soprano Andrea Todaro will sing the national anthem accompanied by the Buffalo Brass Quintet. Boy Scout Troop 350, from Medford, Minnesota, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Military honors with a narrated 13-fold flag ceremony will be presented by the U.S. Air Force 914th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) from the Niagara Falls Air Force Base.
The Knights of Columbus Maximilian Kolbe Assembly No. 1944 will present a ceremony and formation throughout the Naval Park grounds beginning at 11 a.m. Additional Memorial Day ceremonies will take place at noon near the Hispanic American Veterans Memorial, at 1 p.m. near the Vietnam Memorial, and at 2 p.m. near the African American Veterans Monument. In the evening, the Naval Park will host Slow Roll Buffalo for the annual Memorial Day ride starting at 6:30 p.m.
Paul Marzello, president and CEO of the Buffalo Naval Park, said, “It is a fitting tribute to commemorate our fallen heroes on Memorial Day at the Buffalo Naval Park under the grand and glorious flag that flies above us. We are reminded by the 7,300 flags planted on the grounds around us that the pain and suffering of war continue long after our soldiers return home.”
All veterans receive free admission to the Naval Park on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29.
The Naval Park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the last ticket sold at 4 p.m.
The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the nation’s largest inland naval park and the home of four U.S. Naval vessels: USS The Sullivans, USS Little Rock, USS Croaker and PTF-17. Located on Buffalo’s waterfront, this unique family destination is committed to its mission, which is to honor, educate, inspire and preserve. The Buffalo Naval & Military Park also features a museum, United States military exhibits, and a beautifully manicured veterans park with 15 monuments and memorials dedicated to those who served our country. More information about the Buffalo Naval Park is available at www.buffalonavalpark.org.
The Battle Within Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation whose mission is to support veterans in crisis, educate the public, and honor our heroes for their service, regardless of where they died. More information about the Battle Within Foundation is available at www.thebattlewithinfoundation.com.