Memorial Day enriched by extra funds

If flowers, wreaths and miniature flags seem more plentiful for today’s Memorial Day ceremony, give credit to Wallace Levin, president of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission.

The commission, eight years after receiving $1,000 for the 2000 ceremony, the commission was recently allocated $10,000 for today’s ceremony, which will focus on the 90th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. Only four men from the war are alive today, Levin said.

Levin, who has served on the 15-member commission for more than 25 years, had lobbied to increase the amount of money dedicated for Memorial Day through The City’s Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax program.

The grants are paid through the hotel-tax fund, a 14 percent levy on every San Francisco visitor who stays in a hotel. Eight cents of every dollar collected from that tax goes to the city’s program.

In 2000, Levin, a Korean War veteran, warned that organizers would cancel the Memorial Day ceremony because city officials gave them just $1,000 to pay for the items necessary to stage the event every year, which include 1,500 chairs, flowers, wreaths, miniature flags, programs and promotions. It was by far the smallest amount of money given out by the grant program.

After a letter to the Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Willie Brown, the funding stream began to open up. The commission’s grant for Memorial Day increased to $5,000, but Levin wasn’t satisfied. Other events were receiving much more, such as San Francisco’s Carnaval, which was allocated more than $93,000 this year.

“If they’re getting that, then we should get something more for honoring over 2 million service men and women,” Levin said.

The commission, which also plans the Veterans Day parade and provides insight to the Board of Supervisors when veteran issues intersect with city labor policy, is satisfied with this year’s grant, said Commissioner Raymond Wong, a Vietnam War veteran.

Today’s ceremony will focus on World War I, but emotions are also expected to run high during two tributes, one dedicated to Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and another memorializing Rep. Tom Lantos, who recently died after a battle with cancer.

As for the remaining World War I veterans, Levin said this could be the last major anniversary for them.

“When these four die, our connection to history is gone,” he said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Recology executives have acknowledged overcharging city ratepayers. (Mira Laing/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
Recology to repay customers $95M in overcharged garbage fees, city attorney says

San Francisco’s waste management company, Recology, has agreed to repay its customers… Continue reading

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Settlement clears path for all youth, high school sports to resume in California

John Maffei The San Diego Union-Tribune All youth and high school sports… Continue reading

State to reserve 40 percent of COVID-19 vaccines for hard-hit areas

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation State officials said Thursday that… Continue reading

Neighbors and environmental advocates have found the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park noisy and inappropriate for its natural setting. <ins>(</ins>
Golden Gate Park wheel wins extension, but for how long?

Supervisors move to limit contract under City Charter provision requiring two-thirds approval

Most Read