Rockland County Legislator Laurie Santulli encourages all who are able to attend this year’s Memorial Day Watchfires, held annually to honor those who served our nation but never returned home from battle.
“As Americans, we have so much to be thankful for and our gratitude must always extend to the men and women who served our country and made the supreme sacrifice while in uniform,” Legislator Santulli said.
Legislator Santulli’s father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era; two uncles served in the Army, stationed in Vietnam. All survived the war, but each lost friends who did not.
“I grew up hearing about the friends who didn’t make it home alive, and I want to honor those sacrifices, as well as the service of my family members and all others who served during war,” Legislator Santulli said. “I hope people throughout Rockland and everywhere will take some time this weekend to attend a memorial service in recognition of the high payment that is required in order to live free.”
The Rockland County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America has been lighting the watchfires since 1987 in memory of the troops who never returned from war. They were started in memory of Vietnam War service members – 46 young men from Rockland were killed in Vietnam, but the annual commemoration has extended to apply to troops from other wars.
The fires are lit each year at 12:01 a.m. on Memorial Day and burn for 24 hours. They are located at Clausland Mountain Park in Orangeburg; Bowline Point Park in Haverstraw; Eugene Levy Memorial Park on Route 45 in Ramapo; and the east end of the Piermont Pier.
All the Watchfires are open to the public, with attendees urged to start arriving at about 11 p.m. Some ceremonies will begin at about 11:30 p.m.