LATHAM, NY (05/24/2023) (readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Major General Michel Natali, the assistant adjutant general for New York, will president over a Memorial Day Ceremony at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham on Thursday morning, May 25.
Members of the press are invited to cover the brief, outdoor ceremony.
WHO: Maj. Gen. Michel Natali, an Iraq War veteran and assistant adjutant general of the New York National Guard, and Soldiers and Airmen of the New York Army and Air National Guard and state and federal civilian employees who support the National Guard mission.
WHAT: A short ceremony to mark the Memorial Day holiday. The event will be held outside the Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters building and feature remarks from Natali. There will be a moment of silence and a bugler will play taps.
WHEN: 11 a.m., Thursday, May 25, 2023
WHERE: New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Headquarters, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham.
Video and still imagery of the uniformed color guard and the bugler playing taps. There will be an opportunity to interview Natali after his remarks at the ceremony.
NOTE: The event will begin promptly at 11 a.m. and will be no longer than 15-20 minutes.
Members of the media must contact the Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Office at 518-786-4581 for access to this secure military facility.
Memorial Day traces its history back to the traumatic events of the Civil War when 624,511 Soldiers on both sides died between 1861 and 1865. Families on both sides of the conflict wanted to remember those who had died.
The first Memorial Day celebration in the northern states took place in Waterloo, New York on April 5, 1866 to mark the year since the end of the Civil War. These events were originally known as Decoration Day.
On that day, the village was decorated with flags at half mast, evergreen branches -which represented eternal life in the 19th century- and black ribbons to mourn for the dead. General John B. Murray. Murray, a local Civil War hero, led a procession to the village cemeteries where flowers were placed on the graces of those who had died in the fighting.
The village did it again in 1867. By 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic, the equivalent of the American Legion for Union War veterans, was urging a National Day of Remembrance on May 30 and the village shifted their date to May 30 along with other New York communities.
In the south, a group of former slaves held a Memorial Day event in May of 1865, just a month after the war's end, marking the graves of Union Soldiers who died in battles around Charleston, South Carolina.
Other events were held across the south in communities to mark the graves of Confederate war dead as well.
Since then, the day's meaning has expanded to one of commemorating all those who have given their lives in defense of the United States. Since 1971 the day is officially commemorated on the Monday following the last weekend in May.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, 39 New York Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen -7 Airmen and 32 Soldiers- have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The most recent casualties occurred in 2018 when an HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopter flown by the 106th Rescue Wing based at Westhampton Beach, New York, crashed in Iraq, killing four members of the wing.