Somber plans for Memorial Day

Ongoing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan will make this year’s Memorial Day services especially poignant for many Bay Area families.

At the Presidio, which has hosted Memorial Day services since the Civil War, ceremonies will pay tribute to the men — and, for the first time, the women — who have died in combat. Services begin at 10 a.m. and will feature the crew of the missile destroyer USS Pinckney, which recently returned from its maiden deployment in the war on terror. A Navy fly-by follows at 11 a.m.

“The best Memorial Day is when we go from one [year] to the next without any combat deaths. We haven’t had that luxury in the past four years,” said Wallace Levin, the San Francisco County Veterans Service officer who has organized the event for 30 years.

Four wreaths will be laid out for the 2,759 soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — a number that keeps rising, Levin said.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, Navy submarines will surface at 11 a.m. to honor those who have died aboard the Navy crafts. At Land’s End, a noon service will remember the crew of the cruiser San Francisco that battled the Japanese fleet off Guadalcanal Island in 1942.

Caltrain and Amtrak conductors will announce a moment of silence at 3 p.m., followed by the engineer sounding the train whistle.

In San Bruno, the Golden Gate National Cemetery will kick off its Memorial Day tribute at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, members of the Green Party will hold a vigil to protest war efforts around the world.

Cypress Lawn in Colma will host its 10th annual Memorial Day Service, where guests can walk the “Avenue of Flags” composed of banners donated by local families. The Navy will stage a parade through the grounds, and an Iraq war veteran is scheduled to speak.

“We’re sensitive to the fact that war is still going on,” spokesman Martin Jacobs said. “This year, it’s going to be a bigger event because of the war.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

SF Examiner
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