Each year thousands of people gather at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to honor Indiana’s military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice in America’s wars at the 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce. All the excitement that surrounds the annual running of the Indianapolis 500 eagerly pauses for one solemn morning each May as a grateful community gives honor to Hoosiers who died in defense of our country so that others might remain free.
The Memorial Service takes place this Friday at noon on the north steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The event is free and open to the public. Parking meters around Monument Circle will be free until 4 p.m. on Friday, May 25.
Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. (“win-eh-feld”) is currently the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer. Most recently, he served as the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Please click here to read more about Admiral Winnefeld.
Guests of honor include Mr. Scott Thiems (“themes”), Chairman of the 500 Festival Board of Directors; Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. , 9th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer.; Mrs. Brenda Wilson, Gold Star Mother Speaker; The Honorable Mitch Daniels, Governor of the State of Indiana; The Honorable Greg Ballard, Mayor of the City of Indianapolis; Mr. Kirk Hendrix, President and CEO, 500 Festival; Major General R. Martin Umbarger, The Adjutant General of Indiana; Lieutenant General Peter Vojtek, Republic of Slovakia; Brigadier General J. Stewart Goodwin, Commander Indiana Air National Guard and Family members of Hoosier servicemen and women who have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Sponsors for the 500 Festival Memorial Service include Rolls-Royce, OneAmerica, The American Legion, WNDY and WFMS. For more information on the 500 Festival Memorial Service or other 500 Festival events and programs visit www.500festival.com.
Please see the detailed timeline below for a schedule of Memorial Service activities (times are approximate and are subject to change).
Monument Circle is closed to traffic
“America the Beautiful” by Capital City Chorus
Welcoming remarks from Jim Denny (WFMS)
Remarks from Scott Thiems, 500 Festival Chairman
National Anthem by Major Lisa Kopczynski (Cup-chin-ski) and 38th Infantry Division Band
POW/MIA Flag Placement, Daniel Wheeler, Co-Master of Ceremonies
Remarks by Mayor Greg Ballard
Remarks by Governor Mitch Daniels
Remarks by Admiral Winnefeld, Ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Remarks by Gold Star Mother Brenda Wilson
Laying of the wreaths
Presentation of Caisson
Bugler performs Taps
Battle Hymn of the Republic by 38th Infantry Division Band
Missing man formation flyover (A10 Warthogs, flown by the Blacksnakes of the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard from Fort Wayne)
God Bless America by Capital City Chorus
The mission of the 500 Festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®. Through social, cultural and educational events and programs, the 500 Festival enhances the quality of life for all citizens of our communities.
The 500 Festival, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the greatest race in the world. Over the past 55 years, the 500 Festival has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation.
Last year, more than 500,000 Hoosiers and visitors participated in nearly 50 events and programs throughout the month of May. Whether they were athletes running the Mini-Marathon, fourth grade students participating in the Education Program, families enjoying the state’s largest festival for kids or spectators being dazzled by one of the nation’s premier parades, they were there, celebrating the legacy.