A Watchfire to honor those who served is a fitting Memorial

I’m pretty sure I’ve never welcomed in Memorial Day in a more appropriate manner.

My dear wife Karen told me our great friend Michelle had a big plan for late Sunday afternoon into evening. Her former colleague Dino was celebrating his 70th birthday with a barbecue and dozens of amigos at the New York State Fairgrounds.

No small bash here.

No small bash here.

We know Dino. Everybody in Syracuse knows Dino. He’s been a fixture standing guard at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for decades, a big man keeping the peace in the restaurant and bar.

And the birthday party was part of something big and grand and close to Dino’s heart. It was the 20th year for the Memorial Day Weekend Watchfire presented by the Syracuse Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association.

Remembering those who served.

Remembering those who served.

So our tent village was in the midst of thousands of folks gathered for the serious ceremony.

I wrote about what the night meant to me in my weekly Mark It Up column for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org. You can read the piece by clicking the link below.


Intense night.

Intense night.

Here’s a photo gallery.

Click on a photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo to start an enlarged slide show.

I hope this helps you honor the memory of those that served the United States of America. For those of you reading in other places of the world, today is our to pay tribute to those who gave in service through history, and still today. Of course those lives sacrificed had a ripple effect to where you are reading this today. So I in turn nod my head to your country people who have given of themselves for your land.

And here’s a video shot by Karen, who was standing alongside me for the goosebump-inducing ceremony.

If there are particular people in your life you are paying tribute to today, please honor them with a comment below.

42 thoughts on “A Watchfire to honor those who served is a fitting Memorial

  1. This is such a fantastic memorial for those who served, Mark. The watchfire is such a great idea for people to gather around and remember…
    My second cousins, Johnny and Eddie were the only ones I ever met who served in Vietnam. My grandpa Oldrieve was in the Army during WWII and he never was the same. I know my Mom only met him a few times, since he was in the Cincinnati Veteran’s Hospital, which I believe had wards for military men who were needing constant care, like a nursing home. My grandma Oldrieve lived with us from my age of 4 years old until I was 14, Mark. She deserves a medal for standing by my grandpa and trying her best to take care of him.


  2. Fire makes such a powerful statement. And Taps…always brings tears. The bagpipes added a lot to the mood. Pretty amazing,all around. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

    I went to a sunrise flag ceremony at a local park. Soldiers,scouts, brass band, speeches; much less drama, but equally moving. My dad survived WW II, would have been 91 yesterday, his birthday. ☺


  3. WOW! I once again have learned something new. What a fabulous tribute to out fallen and what a touching way to dispose of a tattered flag. Thank You Mr. Mark and dear wife Karen! Happy Memorial Day!


  4. Mark, what exactly are they setting on fire? I couldn’t make it out in the video. It is indeed gorgeous.

    One of my brothers is retired military. He was overseas in Somalia for 10 months. I always thank him on this day.


    • They build a big base of wooden palettes, Samara, and people bring old flags that need to be properly retired, and then other people add signs of tribute to the troops. The photos on this post, all colorfful with all those messages, that’s what’s burned.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Mark this is amazing. I would love to see something like this adopted around here, and every where. I would like to pay tribute to all of the aging veterans out there who I have come across in my field of work of investigating abuse/neglect and exploitation of the elderly. I have met many a wonderful man and woman who have served and would do it again and again. Even knowing the suffering they would go through for the rest of their lives. Thank you for this MBM.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had never heard of a Watchfire before. Very cool and thanks for such a great story. I read the article too. I did not know that was an honorable way to dispose of worn flags. It makes perfect sense.


    • Thanks for coming along for the ride today, Christy. I’m glad you enjoyed the holiday tour with us. I thought it was a special show. It is a very col and respectful way to lay a flag to rest, I agree, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow. That was an amazing tribute. Thank you for honoring the warriors who helped to keep our countries free. Love the bag pipes.


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