CNY Watchfire 2023
Celebrating the past - Transitioning to the future
The Syracuse Watchfire will return to the NYS Fairgrounds this Memorial Day weekend after being canceled for the last three years. For over 33 years through 2019, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 103 (VVA 103) successfully spearheaded the annual Veterans Watchfire event at NYS Fairgrounds prior to Memorial Day. With the recent covid epidemic and associated concerns, this event was canceled years 2020 to 2022.
Watchfire 2023 will be held Sunday, May 28 5:00 PM
As a result of very strong community support to bring this event back, the CNY Veterans Recognition Foundation (CNYVRF), a 501(c)3 charitable organization, assumed responsibility for Watchfire management and conduct, capitalizing on the experience and continuing participation of Vietnam Veterans of America (Chapter 103 (VVA 103) members.
The Watchfire is a memorial where retired flags are put into a wood pile and burned to honor U.S. soldiers and veterans. Thousands of onlookers from all over Central New York come to watch and honor our local veterans
As Watchfire planning continues, contact one of the following for further information, to volunteer, etc.:
Rick Keyes (315) 254-5845 KeyesRick@gmail.com
John Paddock (315) 382-3284 Advance.Concept@verizon.net
Want to volunteer to help? We would love to have you.
Click here to request more information. Please be sure to add your phone number
The origin of military “watchfires” in the United States dates back at least to the Revolutionary War. General George Washington had signal fires (Watchfires) along the Hudson River in Southeastern New York and Northern New Jersey which alerted residents to the approach of the British and helped soldiers separated in battle return safely to their units. Watchfires continued to be used within military units following battles or long marches to help service members find their way back to their units.
Today, Watchfires are organized in communities throughout the USA to symbolically light the way home for service members that have made the ultimate sacrifice to our country or are missing in action. They are often solemn events supporting our veterans in honor of their service.
In the Central New York Community, for over 33 years through to 2019, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 103 (VVA 103) successfully spearheaded the annual CNY Watchfire event at NYS Fairgrounds prior to Memorial Day. However, due to the Covid pandemic, as well as the diminishing VVA membership numbers, the CNY Watchfire was canceled from 2020 through 2022.
The suspension of the CNY Watchfire was a painful loss for the Central New York Community, which tends to care deeply about traditions honoring our military and veterans. This popular event not only gives our veterans an opportunity to remember and respect those that have fallen in service to our country but also to reconnect with comrades in arms.
The Onondaga County Executive Veterans Advisory Board has concluded there is a strong military veteran and community desire to resume the CNY Watchfire and a pressing need for an event succession plan to see the Watchfire return for 2023 and beyond. This call to action was answered quickly by the local veteran’s support organization, CNY Veterans Recognition Foundation (CNYVRF). This charitable organization has assumed responsibility for Watchfire management and control, capitalizing on the experience and continuing participation of VVA 103 members. It has been confirmed that CNY’s Watchfire ’23 will occur at NYS Fair’s Brown parking lot on Memorial Day Eve, May 28th!
The CNYVRF will lead Watchfire ‘23 in a similar manner and tradition as in the past with the spirited cooperation and support of VVA 103, veteran organizations, veterans, and volunteers throughout CNY’s military and veteran community. Watchfire ’23 will be lit at dusk, with over 1,000 American flags expected to be appropriately retired in a spectacular and dignified fashion.