This year the South Florida National Cemetery hosted their 10th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony. For those of you who have not witnessed this event, you do not know what you are missing. I first learned of this event from my husband and since we found out about it, we have attended every year. We have invited friends, neighbors and family and we will continue to spread the word as years go on. This year the turnout was not as large as years past and I find that unacceptable. So here I am, sharing with you the experience my family and I have had and hoping that you too will make this event a part of your yearly tribute to those who have passed to keep us free.
First, let me remind everyone that Memorial Day is not a day dedicated to time off work for barbeques and furniture sales. Nearly 150 years ago Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day” and was a day set aside to decorate the graves of men who recently died in battle. Memorial Day takes place on the last Monday in May and commemorates those men and women who lost their lives in military service. While Veterans Day honors all military veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces, Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving. It is not a celebration. One should not say “Happy Memorial Day”. This is a somber day of reflection to pay homage those men and women who paid the final price so that you and I can live the lives we do with the freedoms we have.
The Palm Beach County Veterans Committee puts on a memorable yearly tribute. They receive no grants or loans from government agencies and rely entirely on private donations to pay the expenses associated with this important event. They fill the day with guest speakers, like Master of Ceremonies retired U.S. Navy Jose A. Capellan and U.S. Air Force member Edward Horn, who spent time as a Vietnam POW after his plane was shot down 73 years ago. They handed out ice cold bottled water to each and every person in attendance and also gave each attendee a rose to place on a soldier’s grave. And did I mention they provide free shuttle service to and from the cemetery? The amount of work and thoughtfulness put into this event is amazing. All we have to do is show up. That is it. I understand it is hot, I understand it takes timeout of your day, I understand. But what I understand even more is that none of us would be where we are today if it were not for these brave men and women. We owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude and our utmost respect.
I hope that next year you will consider coming out to honor these men and women, to support their grieving families and to show your appreciation as an American. I know we will be there!
I wanted to add a link to a poem read by ex-POW Edward Norton. You can view it here.