Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Memorial Day Service at Houston VA National Cemetery

March 26, 2007

This year’s theme is "We Proudly Served For Your Love and Freedom."

HOUSTON - A special Memorial Day Service will be held on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. at the Houston VA National Cemetery, located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive.

This year, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce W.E.B. (Willie) Blackmon, retired Houston Municipal Courts judge and former Texas Air National Guard lieutenant colonel will give the Memorial Day address.  Blackmon is presently a Category B IMA Reservist assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing in Judge Advocate's Office at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.  Blackmon received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from Texas A&M University in 1973 and a Juris Doctorate from Texas Southern University in 1982. In 1984, Blackmon entered the U.S. Air Force as a military attorney where he served for the next 20 years. In 2004, he was honorably discharged from the Texas Air National Guard at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Blackmon’s outstanding career contributions were recognized when he was selected to serve as an international election supervisor in Bosnia in 1997. Upon completion of active duty, Blackmon served as an assistant district attorney in Lubbock and Houston, and established a successful career as a private attorney prior to becoming a municipal court judge for the City of Houston.

In addition to Blackmon’s remarks, the event will feature a parade of colors and wreaths by numerous local veterans’ organizations, ROTC units, and Boy and Girl Scout troops. All Boy and Girl Scout organizations in southeast Texas are invited to attend.

There will also be many symbolic highlights including flyovers by the Texas Air National Guard, 147th Fighter Wing and a United States Coast Guard rescue helicopter; taps performed by Josey Johnson, III, Texas State Guard; a riderless horse procession by the Houston Police Mounted Patrol; Amazing Grace performed by Bagpiper Bill Robertson of the Houston Highlander Pipe Band; and a rifle salute by the VFW District #4 Ceremonial Detail accompanied by Co. A 13th U.S. Regular Infantry with muskets.

The Memorial Day Service, honoring deceased United States servicemen and women, is free and open to the public.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Houston VA National Cemetery is the second largest national cemetery in the region, encompassing some 419 acres of a former dairy farm in northwest Houston. The cemetery's focal point and the site of all special observances is the horseshoe-shaped building at its center known as the Hemicycle. This exposed aggregate structure contains a chapel and a 75-foot bell tower and encloses a courtyard that can accommodate as many as 5,000 people. All veterans with general or better discharges, their spouses, and dependent children are eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Eligible veterans may receive a VA grave marker or headstone even if they are not buried in a national cemetery. For more information, visit the National Cemetery Administration Web site at http://www.cem.va.gov.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: The Houston VA National Cemetery is located 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. From Bush Intercontinental Airport, take John F. Kennedy Blvd. south to Beltway 8. Turn right onto Beltway 8 west and exit at Ella. Follow the feeder road west to the third traffic light. Turn left on Veterans Memorial Drive. Proceed to the first traffic light and turn left on T.C. Jester. The cemetery entrance is on the right.