The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 333 continued the 30-year Rockland County tradition of lighting midnight watchfires at locations around the county midnight May 30, the traditional Memorial Day. The fires, lit up this year at Bowline Point Park in Haverstraw, Eugene Levy Memorial Park on Route 45 in Pomona, the top of Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg and the east end of the Piermont Pier, are allowed to burn for the full 24 hours of Memorial Day.
Watchfires were first lit by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War as signals to warn of British troop movement. In 1987 Vietnam vets in Rockland County began holding local watchfire events, fast becoming a staple of Rockland County’s Memorial Day commemorations.
During the daylight hours of May 30 the watchfires are used to retire American flags.