Memorial Day events set
Businesses and families are celebrating Memorial Day in Cape Coral this Monday to honor troops from the last 200 years.
One of the most publicized events is the dedication of the “Tribute to a Soldier” statue at the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve at the foot of the Midpoint Bridge. This new memorial will sit next to the replica of Felix de Weldon’s tribute to the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
Beth Sanger, director of the Cape Coral Community Foundation, helped local advocates raise money for the new statue, a sculpture of an American soldier handing a soccer ball to an Iraqi boy.
“It is to pay tribute to all of those men and women who provide freedom for our country,” said Sanger, who explained that artists have been working on it for about two years, raising money and designing the statue.
Local artists Rudy Diaz, Danny Pardo, Nick Lioce and Jim Gargiuoa each contributed their time and ideas to the statue.
The dedication on Monday begins at 10 a.m. where officials will unveil the new statue, following by a small reception and champagne toast. Sanger said more than 100 people are expects to attend. Mariner High’s Color Guard and band will perform at the dedication and Savannah Rodriguez will perform the national anthem.
Steve Pullman, city director of Parks and Recreation, will host the event and other city officials are expected to make an address.
Sanger pointed out that the community foundation will continue raising money for the restoration and maintenance of the Iwo Jima statue and Tribute to a Soldier.
“We are excited, the artists have put their heart and soul into this. The fund raiser will be ongoing even though the statue has been built,” she said.
Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery, at 1630 SW Pine Island Road, is also holding its annual Memorial Day celebration at 10 a.m. It will feature the typical commemorative traditions, such as a 21-gun salute, a presentation of the colors by the Mariner High JROTC, a rendition of God Bless America and Taps. They also read the names of all the veterans intered at Coral Ridge over the last year.
There will be speakers from Coral Ridge, the American Legion, and the U.S. military.
Courtney Knerr, general manager, said he also will address the crowd on Coral Ridge’s new burial program for homeless or indigent veterans. The funeral home will provide a fully funded, dignified burial for veterans.
A barbecue with hamburgers and hotdogs, donated by Dicicco Quality Meats in Cape Coral, will follow. Tents are also being installed to keep people cool during the hottest part of the day.
“Out of the typical ceremony, we are just trying to get everybody together and congregate, be a local community and have a good time,” said Knerr. “We try to make it more as a celebration attitude than a mourning attitude.”
Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home is hosting a Memorial Day service over the bridge on 1589 Colonial Blvd. The service begins on Monday at 9:30 a.m. and includes a dedication of a new Field of Honor, a wreath dedication ceremony and complimentary barbecue. Organizers also are asking the community for non-perishable foot items to help the McGregor Baptist Food Pantry.
All this weekend, Fort Myers Toyota will have music, refreshments, food and free patriotic gear to honor the U.S. armed forces. Toyota is donating a portion of its car sales to Herocare, an organization which provides assistance and services to troops, and the two will send USO care packages to active duty personnel.