WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) used a Memorial Day setting at the National World War II Memorial construction site to announce its official dedication events for the long-awaited memorial. The four-day Tribute to a Generation celebration will run over Memorial Day weekend 2004, May 27 - 30. The formal dedication is set for Saturday afternoon, May 29, 2004. The announcement was made by ABMC Chairman General P.X. Kelley, USMC (retired), before a group of Veterans Service Organization representatives who marked the 12-month countdown to dedication by gathering to remember the millions of WWII veterans who will not see their memorial completed. Of 16 million who served during the war, fewer than four million are expected to be alive in May 2004. "We remember today the gallant WWII veterans who gave their lives for freedom, and the millions who have died since," General Kelley said. "We look forward to gathering here in 12 months, with their comrades-in-arms, to dedicate America's memorial tribute to our WWII generation." The Smithsonian Institution, the Washington National Cathedral, and Armed Forces ceremonial and musical units will participate in ABMC's official dedication events. Scheduled events include: Dedication Ceremony The memorial will be formally dedicated on Saturday, May 29, at 2 p.m. Pre-ceremony entertainment will include live music, video images of the wartime era, and historical information about the memorial. The ceremony will recognize the addition of the memorial to the National Mall area as a unit of the National Park System, and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the WWII generation. WWII Reunion The Smithsonian Institution will produce a National World War II Reunion on the Mall. The four-day event (May 27-30) will provide a venue for members of the WWII generation to gather together, meet former comrades, record oral histories, and enjoy 1940's music and WWII equipment displays. The open-air and tented attractions will be exhibited from late morning to early evening and will be open to the public at no charge. The reunion will educate all generations on the importance of WWII to our nation. Veterans Salute ABMC will present a "Salute to WWII Veterans" at the MCI Center, featuring Armed Forces personnel in a musical and narrative tribute to veterans. This event will be free and open to the public. Three performances are planned: afternoon matinee and evening shows on Friday, May 28, and an evening performance on Saturday, May 29. Memorial Service An interfaith memorial service is set for Saturday, May 29, at 10 a.m. at the Washington National Cathedral. The service will celebrate the dedication of the memorial and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Military and civilian clergy, as well as WWII dignitaries, are expected to participate. Plans also are underway for a regional, summer-long celebration honoring the WWII generation featuring a variety of cultural activities, including performances, exhibits, lectures and films. Details are expected later this summer. Specific arrangements for these events and other activities associated with the dedication will be made available on the memorial web site (www.wwiimemorial.com) and toll free number (1-800-639-4992) as they are confirmed. Construction of the memorial began in September 2001. The memorial is on schedule to open to the public in early April 2004.
SOURCE American Battle Monuments Commission