Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103 Memorial Day Watchfire  

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(Italicized text revised 18 April 2014)

Watchfire 2014 will take place on Sunday, 25 May in the Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY. (See annotated aerial photograph at page bottom.)

The Watchfire ceremony and lighting of the pyre will occur at dusk, but the park will be open all day. American Flags to be retired may be brought to the park beginning Friday, 23 May and until the time of pyre lighting. You may place flags on the pyre, or give them to VVA103 members who will place the flags on the pyre.

Food and drink vendors will be on-site, but picnicking is not discouraged. The supply of picnic benches is limited, however, so "first-come, first-served."

The building of the pyre begins on Friday, 23 May. Donated wooden pallets should be delivered to the designated area of the Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park beginning Tuesday, 20 May, and ending Thursday, 22 May. Questions regarding delivery and placement of pallets and other combustibles may be directed to Bill Martin at 315-468-5898 during normal business hours.

Our product tent will be on site and souvenirs can be purchased to help support the Watchfire and other VVA Chapter 103 projects.

The Vet Center tent and VA staffers will be on-site to offer information about Veteran benefits.

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, we symbolically use the warmth and light of our Watchfire to guide everyone to join us in reflection of those comrades who have gone before us making our nation strong through their service and sacrifice.

V V A Chapter 103 uses the Watchfire and accompanying ceremony to make Memorial Day more meaningful for everyone in the community. In 1995 the event honored the American veterans of World Wars I, II and Korea. In 1996 we dedicated the event to the Gold Star Mothers. In 1997 the 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 Flags of Watchfires

A Video Re-Mix of Watchfires 2010 Through 2013 Photography

Video quality setting and the full-screen option may be selected when the video begins.

The Watchfire 2013 Thank-You List

The efforts and generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations are required to stage the Watchfire. VVA Chapter 103, and Chapter President, Gordy Lane, would like to publicly thank the following for their untiring support and effort:

The CNY Vietnam Veterans Foundation, under the leadership of Don Benack, for helping to fund this event.

The event Chairmen, Bill Martin, and the Watchfire Committee without whom this event would not occur.

The volunteers for building the pyre so central to this event. The Carpenters Union and other trade union members who volunteered their time, expertise and labor.

The members of Chapter 103 who volunteered and worked to make the Watchfire available and free to the community.

The volunteers in the tent selling our products. Our product sales profits support future Watchfires.

Manny Falcone and a large group of motorcycle riders for their generous donation to VVA Chapter 103.

Our gratitude goes to The Great New York State Fair; especially, Thomas Ryan, Fair Director, and Jeananne Keegan-Smith, Concessions and Exhibits Manager. They allow us to use the Watchfire Park. Show them our gratitude by attending the other great events that the Fair puts on year round.

Thanks to the Solvay, NY Fire Department and SFD Chief, Angelo Cantello, for standing by during the event. We could not have a Watchfire without a fire service in attendance.

The Mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, and the Parks and Recreation Staff Director, Baye Mohammad, for making the stage available.

The Syracuse Brigadier Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps for their time and efforts in presenting the music to entertain us.

Dale Bloss and the other pipers who played the bagpipes so beautifully.

The members of the Onondaga County Sheriffâ??s Office for traffic control and event security.

Dan Boscoe and his staff for providing food and beverage during the event.

Our ice cream vendor for his time and cooling treats.

National Audio, and Mark Gummer and his technician, Alex, for the sound system

Twin Trees Pizza of Baldwinsville for giving the Watchfire construction crews delicious pizza.

The Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Vet Center for sponsoring a tent and a mobile Veteran Van along with an opportunity to help and council vets by doing everyday not just today what they do best in helping the Veteran Community.

We thank everyone for coming out and making the VVA 103 Watchfire the premier Memorial Day Weekend event of Central New York; proving there are still people who can respectfully remember those who served the United States of America.

The Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park

Vietnam Veterans of America
Central New York Chapter 103
P.O. Box 675
Liverpool, NY 13088