INDIANAPOLIS — The community is invited to the American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service on Thursday. The local tradition honors our fallen men and women ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
It's been a tradition in Indy for more than 60 years and is making a full return this year following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service will include a military flyover, a color guard presentation, performances by the Capital City Chorus, the Indiana National Guard's 38th Infantry Division Band, a wreath-laying ceremony, the playing of the taps and a rifle salute.
The service honors our fallen servicemen and women, allowing their families and the public to pay tribute.
"The 500 Festival really creates a very specific moment where we work with Gold Star families, and those are families who have lost someone in active duty defending our country and defending our freedom," 500 Festival President and CEO Bob Bryant said. "This is our opportunity to have a really personal and heartfelt moment for them to have their own ceremony and their own opportunity to memorialize and remember, followed by a public opportunity that I think people will be impressed by but also be honored to be a part of. It's really us drawing that attention to Memorial weekend and what that symbolizes and what that really means, and you'll see all of that really play out in that service."
Festival organizers stay in touch with and partner with around 100 families who lost a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Lieutenant General John Jansen is this year's keynote speaker. He is recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. For more than three decades, he led Marines in first response, high-risk security operations around the globe, including nine overseas deployments.
The American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service is scheduled Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Indiana War Memorial downtown.
The event is free and open to the public.