Presidio to host 141st Memorial Day ceremony

May 22, 2009 3:33:23 PM PDT
San Francisco's Presidio on Monday will play host to one of the largest Memorial Day ceremonies in the country, honoring the more than 1 million Americans killed serving in the armed forces.

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More than 35,000 veterans and their families are buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, from conflicts dating back to the 1846 U.S.-Mexican War.

The 141st annual ceremonies in San Francisco on Monday will include a parade of veterans, a 21-gun salute and special tributes to soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Buffalo Soldiers, the first all-black regiments in the U.S. Army.

According to Presidio officials, several hundred of the Buffalo Soldiers were at one time stationed at the Presidio, and 450 were buried in the National Cemetery there.

This year's event also marks the 90th anniversary of the armistice treaty of World War I between the Allies and Germany, signed on Nov. 18, 1918, and will pay special honor to World War I veterans.

Monday's events begin with a parade at 10:30 a.m. from the Main Post to the cemetery at 1 Lincoln Blvd. The parade will be followed by formal ceremonies at 11 a.m. featuring the 191st Army Band and salutes to veterans. Speakers will include state Sen. Leland Yee, state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.

At 11:30 a.m., a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station San Francisco will do a flyover of the events, approaching the San Francisco National Cemetery from the north.

After, park rangers will lead walks through the cemetery with information on the lives of Medal of Honor awardees and other noteworthy soldiers.

An interfaith service will end the ceremony at 1 p.m. at the Main Post Chapel.

The Presidio will provide free shuttle service from the Main Post to the National Cemetery between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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