Early Friday morning, May 25, 2012, nearly 180 individuals came to assist park staff in placing more than 18,000 U.S. flags on the graves of Vicksburg National Cemetery. Volunteers ranged from several Boy and Girl Scout troops to members of the local Senior Citizens Center. The annual event began a weekend of commemoration and remembrance at the park, and marked the traditional start of the Vicksburg National Military Park Memorial Day weekend. The volunteer effort was also part of the park’s newly-launched ‘Shape Up, Junior Ranger!’ program, with each Junior Ranger participant receiving a stamp in their Shape Up logbook to improve their rank.
The weekend’s events included a concert by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Brass Quintet under the canopy of the U.S.S. Cairo. The group also provided music for the local veterans’ Memorial Day observances and during the laying of a wreath at the grave of an unknown soldier in Vicksburg National Cemetery. This Memorial Day was especially poignant, as the park staff also recognized 13 previously unknown burials in the national cemetery.
Additionally, displays showing U.S. military forces throughout the nation’s history were set up outside the main Visitor Center on Saturday and Sunday. Living history depictions ranged from the Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts, with programs focusing on the life of a soldier, their uniforms, equipment, military vehicles, and weapons.