As Memorial Day comes upon us, many area communities prepare to host numerous programs honoring those who died while serving in the various branches of the U.S. military.
One of the most moving events is the Lost Boat Ceremony hosted by Muskegon’s U.S.S. Silversides Submarine Museum. The event is set for Sunday, May 29, at 11 a.m. at the museum, located at 1346 Bluff St., Muskegon.
“We remember these gentlemen because the men on the submarine are some of the most forgotten veterans,” said Siversides Curator Peggy Maniates. “What they did was quiet and unknown.”
In fact, when Pearl Harbor happened, many of the submarines were not in the harbor when the Japanese attacked, Maniates said. So while the United States needed to rebuild its fleet, the submarines were able to carry on, she said.
“Often time when a battle happens, you might lose one person or a few,” Maniates said. “When a submarine hits a mine, you lost 79 young men in a blink of an eye.
“We recognize these men because we have a submarine here, in Muskegon, and it is something very close to our heart.”
The ceremony usually starts with a fly-by featuring planes from World War II. For the ceremony, there is a special guest speaker, this year being former NASA astronaut James Francis Reilly, II. Reilly, who earned three degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas including a doctorate in geosciences, was selected by NASA in 1994 and completed training at Johnson Space Center in 1995. His first spaceflight was the STS-89 when he was part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew in 1998. In 2001, he was part of the Space Shuttle Atlantis team that went to the International Space Station. His last mission was part of the STS-117 mission with the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2007. That flight marked the 250th orbital human spaceflight.
The ceremony also includes the laying of a memorial wreath on the water and the Tolling of the Boats, where the names of the each of the 52 submarines lost in World War II along with the number of men lost with them are read. It is estimated more than 3,500 men died while serving on submarines during World War II. At the same time, the wives and family members of submarine veterans toss flowers on the water for each boat.
The service will conclude with a 21-gun salute and the starting up of the engine of the U.S.S. Silversides.
WKTV will broadcast the 29th Annual Lost Boat Ceremony on Memorial Day at 10:15 a.m., 6 and 9:30 p.m. The program will be one of several military specials aired that day. Also scheduled is the documentaries “Lest We Forget” and “Vietnam Moving Wall.”
For more on WKTV programming, visit wktv.org.