While COVID-19 restrictions are relaxing across Europe, Memorial Day ceremonies at U.S. military cemeteries will still be closed to the public this year. U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) will commemorate Memorial Day 2021 with a series of flyovers and support to virtual ceremonies.
Dating back to 1868, the holiday has been formally observed to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the Nation. Since 1970, Memorial Day is observed the last Monday in May.
“Throughout the course of U.S. history, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation – and Memorial Day provides a special opportunity to honor their courage in combat and selfless service,” said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander, U.S. European Command. “Even though COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, USEUCOM’s commitment to our fallen heroes buried on European soil endures.”
To safely honor our fallen heroes during a global pandemic, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) will conduct five flyovers over U.S. military cemeteries in France and the UK May 30-31 – specifically, C-130 aircraft from the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and KC-135 aircraft from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, UK. In addition, two 5th-generation F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, currently operating in France, will conduct a flyover with two French Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft over Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery in Marnes-la-Coquette, France.
Like last year, USEUCOM will amplify two American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) virtual Memorial Day ceremonies May 31 featuring pre-recorded remarks from the USEUCOM Commander; a joint rendition of the National Anthem by the USAFE Band; the U.S. Army Europe-Africa (USAREUR-AF) Band; and the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Band; a benediction from the USEUCOM Deputy Command Chaplain; and a performance of Taps by a USAREUR-AF Band bugler.
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of more than 64,000 military and civilian personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. For more information about USEUCOM, visit https://www.eucom.mil.