(The VVA 103 Annual Memorial Day Watchfire is a rain or shine event.)
The next Watchfire is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 28th, 2017 in the Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY.
(See annotated aerial photograph at page end).
The Watchfire ceremony and lighting of the pyre commence at dusk, but do go earlier to get a good spot! Food and drink vendors will be on-site.
The Watchfire stems from the military tradition that following a battle or long march, a large fire would be started so those missing or lost could locate and rejoin their comrades. Using that time honored model symbolically, we use the warmth and light of our Watchfire to guide everyone to join us in reflection of those comrades who have gone before us and made our nation strong through their service and sacrifice.
VVA Chapter 103 uses the Watchfire and accompanying ceremony to make Memorial Day more meaningful for everyone in the community. We invite Veterans and Non-Veterans to gather at the Watchfire to honor those who have so faithfully served the nation.
The 1995 Watchfire honored the American Veterans of World Wars I, II and Korea.
In 1996 we dedicated the event to the Gold Star Mothers. The 1997 event was dedicated to honor Women in Service. Please help us to ensure that Memorial Day does not pass without a suitable remembrance of the women who have served and are serving the nation.
The years following 1997 have been dedicated to all United States of America Veterans.
Come join us at the Watchfire to make Memorial Day an event that honors all those who have served and given their all for our way of life.
The Watchfire also allows VVA Chapter 103 to provide the community with an opportunity to respectfully retire unserviceable American Flags. You are encouraged to bring tattered, worn or faded American Flags for respectful burning on the pyre.
The Watchfire 2016 Thank-You List
The efforts and generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations are required to stage the VVA, Chapter 103 Watchfire. Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103, under the guidance of President, Gordy Lane, and Vice President, Dan DiFlorio, would like to thank the following for their generous support and untiring efforts:
The CNY, Vietnam Veterans Foundation for funding the event.
The event Chairmen, Bill Martin and Pete Bronstad and the Watchfire Committee, without whose efforts the annual Watchfire could not take place.
VVA, Chapter 103 Chaplain, Greg Robinson, for his inspirational invocation.
Dick Madden for his enthusiastic performance as Watchfire Master of Ceremonies.
The many volunteers who built the pyre: especially the Carpenters Union and other trades union members who volunteer their time and expertise. Special thanks to Marty from the Carpenters Union who was foreman of the pyre build.
Thanks to Clear Path for Veterans for helping build the pyre.
The members of Chapter 103, who volunteered and worked extremely hard to make this Watchfire available to the community.
Thanks to VVA 103 member, Keith Zinsmeyer, the Watchfire fuel guy.
We thank Russ Oakes for being our one-man weekend security force. He saw to the peoples
needs in being there at the Watchfire for the entire weekend and to help the building team by organizing the drop offs of materials and flags. Thanks Russ. Semper Fi
The volunteers in the tent selling our products. Paul DuFault and Shirley for the great job selling the 50/50 raffle tickets. All proceeds will go toward continuing the Watchfire event.
Our thanks goes out to The Great New York State Fair, which allows us to use the
Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park. Show them our year-round support by attending the other State Fair events.
Thanks to the Solvay and Taunton Fire Departments for standing by at the event. We cannot have a Watchfire without a fire service in attendance.
Thanks to Onondaga County Sheriff, Eugene J. Conway, and the OCSD Air-1 aircrew for the helicopter flyovers and static display.
The Senior Scouters and Boy Scouts of BSA, Longhouse Council, Oneida District for their
helpfulness and respectful handling of the American Flags. Also, the numerous Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and senior scouters of several local BSA troops and packs.
Syracuse Mayor, Stephanie Miner, and the Commissioner of the Parks and Recreation for
making the mobile stage available and providing a bucket truck for fueling the pyre.
Thanks to "National Audio," Mark Hummer and Jeff for the stage and music sound system.
The a cappella singers, "NoXcuse," who sang the National Anthem. They have great range and the National Anthem is difficult to sing, but the group hit it out of the park.
Dale Bloss and the "Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band," for playing the bag pipes and drums so
The Mannion Foundation for their generous monetary donation to help to alleviate the costs
of the fire.
Charlie Johnson, for his small, but very loud ceremonial cannon.
Thanks to Jamie McGill, former Airman, for her bugling of "Taps."
The few, the proud the US Marines, for bringing their LAV, and the perfection of their Color
Guard, as one would expect of Marines.
A special thanks to "Home Depot" for coming through with donations of materials needed to safely build the fire.
Dan Boscoe and his staff for making food and beverage available for this event.
Ice cream vendor, "Cruisin Cones," for their cooling treats.
We thank our greatest supporter, DJ, Nick Caplan, and "Dinosaur Radio" 95.3 – 103.9 FM for providing free air time to promote the event, and the fine music and commentary Nick provided during the watchfire.
"Twin Trees Pizza" of Baldwinsville for giving us the best pizza ever.
Thanks to Brandi, of "Inspirational Face Painting," who hung in despite damage caused by a torrential rainstorm.
The Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Vet Center for sponsoring a tent and bringing out the Mobile Vet Center.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and making this the premier Memorial Day Weekend event and the largest Memorial Day event in New York State showing that there are still people who can respectfully remember those who gave their all so that we can be free.
Lastly, all of us should thank those men and women serving and have served their country that preserve our freedoms day and have kept us safe for over two centuries.
Stay well, stay safe and we hope to see you next year.
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