NEW ORLEANS (May 17, 2016)—The National WWII Museum will commemorate Memorial Day by honoring the courage and sacrifice of fallen servicemembers through a series of public programs. On May 30, the Museum’s events will kick off at 10:30 a.m. with patriotic music selections by the Marine Corps Band New Orleans Brass Quintet. The performance will be followed by a special ceremony featuring personal tributes from relatives of those who lost their lives during World War II.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and include remarks from Clay Bonnyman Evans, the grandson of 1st Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman. A Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipient, Bonnyman was buried alongside fellow Marines in a battlefield cemetery on Betio Island following the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. The site of the impromptu burial ground was lost by the end of the war, but it was relocated in March 2015. During the Memorial Day program, Evans will tell the story of searching for, locating and recovering the remains of his grandfather and other fallen heroes.
The event will also feature family members of Private Earl J. Keating, a New Orleans native who was killed in action on December 5, 1942 in the Australian Territory of Papua (present-day Papua New Guinea). Keating was buried in Papua New Guinea with Private John H. Klopp, also of New Orleans. The location of their gravesite was lost until 2011 when Keating and Klopp’s identification tags were reported discovered. On May 28, Keating’s remains will be reinterred in his hometown of New Orleans. Following a Mass of Christian Burial, Keating’s funeral procession will pass The National WWII Museum and pause as the Museum’s flag is lowered to half-staff while Taps is played.
“I was a baby when he was killed,” said Nadau duTreil Keating, Private Keating’s nephew. Nadau, whose DNA was used to help identify Private Keating, was 12 years old when his grandmother, dying of pneumonia, asked him to recover and return his uncle’s remains to New Orleans. “When she was dying, I remember being in the house on Banks Street,” he said. “She grabbed me and she said, ‘Find Earl. Please bring Earl home.’ My grandfather was the same way, and my dad. And now all of this is happening.”
Additionally, Tom Tudor, a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia, will speak at the Museum’s Memorial Day ceremony on May 30, highlighting some of the famous military servicemembers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Following the ceremony, the presenters will participate in additional speaking engagements in the Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center—Tudor will speak at 1 p.m. and Evans will speak at 3:30 pm. The Museum will hold a moment of silence and bell-ringing at 3 p.m.
In addition to the Memorial Day ceremony, Museum staff and volunteers will take part in the annual flag planting at the Chalmette National Cemetery on Friday, May 27. The four-hour project begins at 7:30 a.m. and flags will be placed at every headstone in the cemetery. Ahead of Memorial Day, on May 28 and 29, the Marine Corps Band New Orleans will also play patriotic music inside US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For those unable to attend the Memorial Day ceremony on May 30, the event is available via free live stream here: http://livestream.com/nww2m/events/5291535. The Museum also encourages the public to visit mymemorialday.org, a Museum website that shares stories of WWII servicemen and women who died in defense of our nation, images and artifacts from the Museum’s collection, and suggestions on how to honor those who have died. The site also features the Silent Heroes Project, a nationwide initiative where students honor fallen WWII heroes from their home states.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that future generations will know the price of freedom, and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.