The USS KIDD Veterans Museum will be hosting a remembrance ceremony to honor fallen service members on Monday, May 29, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. The event will be held in the Louisiana Memorial Plaza, located on the grounds of the museum.
Since 2014, Gold Star families—those which have lost a family member who served in the armed forces—have increasingly been the focus of the KIDD’s Memorial Day activities. This year’s keynote speaker is Mrs. Kim Graham of St. Martinville, a Gold Star Mother. Her son, Private Mark Graham, U.S. Army, died in 2007 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his Bradley armored fighting vehicle in northwest Baghdad. He was age 22. Mrs. Graham has since written a book, A Song in the Night, about the effects of her son’s death on their family. The Graham family also set up the Mark W. Graham Foundation (MG 20-20) to help support organizations dedicated to serving wounded soldiers and their families.
Graham’s name is one of nearly 7,000 service members engraved in the walls of the Louisiana Memorial Plaza on the grounds of the USS KIDD. The names start with Louisiana-born Spanish militia lost in the American Revolution and move forward through time to the modern wars in the Middle East. Now, ten years after his death, Private Graham’s mother will view his place on the black granite walls of the Plaza for the first time.
“Forget about the barbeques, the blockbuster movie premiers, the fantastic sales, and the three-day weekend,” said Tim NesSmith, USS KIDD Educational Outreach Coordinator. “For Gold Star families, service members, and those connected to the military, Memorial Day has a much deeper and somber meaning. Each name in this Plaza represents a person; a loved one. Each represents a wound and a loss that never truly heals.”
In recent years, the museum staff has invited attendees to place a poppy beside the name of a fallen service member on the plaza walls. Since World War I, poppies have become synonymous with remembrance of military service members that have died in wartime. Attendees are then encouraged to record that person’s name and make use of the technological tools now available in the Information Age to learn about that person so that they are never forgotten.
For more information, contact: Ship Superintendent Tim NesSmith (225) 342-1942 TNessmith@usskidd.com
For those attending the ceremonies, veterans are encouraged to wear something representing their branch of service, such as their uniform or a small pin. Gold Star families are encouraged to bring a photo of their loved one. Other guests are encouraged to wear something patriotic to show their support.
The USS KIDD Veterans Museum galleries will be free to the public between 9:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. only. USS KIDD ship tours will be available at the regular admission price of $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-12. Veterans and military families will receive half-price admission with the presentation of their military ID.
For more information, please contact Ship Superintendent & Educational Outreach Coordinator Tim NesSmith, via phone at (225) 342-1942, Ext. 15, or via email at TNessmith@usskidd.com .