HOUSTON - A special Memorial Day Service will be held on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. at the Houston VA National Cemetery, located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive.
This year, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce James E. Nier, executive director of the Texas Veterans Commission will give the Memorial Day address. He served 22 years in the U. S. Army and was stationed in Vietnam (1962 - 1963) and Korea (1967 - 1968). A graduate of the U. S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, his last assignment was as an instructor there until his retirement in 1981. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Finance in 1975 from Mount St. Mary's College and a Master's Degree in Management in 1977 from Frostburg State College. A life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he served as National Commander-in-Chief of its 2.1 million members from August 1996 to August 1997. He was only the third Texan to be elected to that high office in more than 110 years of the VFW’s existence. He and his wife, Kimmy, have four children and nine grandchildren. Their youngest son William is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.
In addition to Nier’s remarks, the event will feature a parade of colors and wreaths by numerous local veterans’ organizations, ROTC units, and Boy and Girl Scout troops. All Boy and Girl Scout organizations in southeast Texas are invited to attend.
There will also be many symbolic highlights including a flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard; a performance of Taps; a cannon salute; a riderless horse procession by the Houston Police Mounted Patrol; Amazing Grace performed by the Houston Highlander Pipe Band; a white dove release; and a rifle salute by the VFW District #4 Ceremonial Detail accompanied by Co. A 13th U.S. Regular Infantry with muskets. Medal of Honor recipient David McNerney will lead the pledge of allegiance with Peggy Slay, president of the Houston Gold Star Mothers.
The Memorial Day Service, honoring deceased United States servicemen and women, is free and open to the public.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Houston VA National Cemetery is the second largest national cemetery in the region, encompassing some 419 acres of a former dairy farm in northwest Houston. The cemetery's focal point and the site of all special observances is the horseshoe-shaped building at its center known as the Hemicycle. This exposed aggregate structure contains a chapel and a 75-foot bell tower and encloses a courtyard that can accommodate as many as 5,000 people. All veterans with general or better discharges, their spouses, and dependent children are eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Eligible veterans may receive a VA grave marker or headstone even if they are not buried in a national cemetery. For more information, visit the National Cemetery Administration Web site at http://www.cem.va.gov.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: The Houston VA National Cemetery is located 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. From Bush Intercontinental Airport, take John F. Kennedy Blvd. south to Beltway 8. Turn right onto Beltway 8 west and exit at Ella. Follow the feeder road west to the third traffic light. Turn left on Veterans Memorial Drive. Proceed to the first traffic light and turn left on T.C. Jester. The cemetery entrance is on the right.