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Memorial Day ceremonies set

By Staff | May 26, 2012

Area residents looking to honor service men and women who made the supreme sacrifice to their country will have ample opportunity Memorial Day weekend.

At least three major ceremonies have been scheduled, one in Cape Coral and two in Fort Myers.

In the Cape, Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery will once again host a Memorial Day service. The free event, a long-standing tradition that attracts hundreds each year, will begin at 10 a.m., Monday, May 28, in the Veterans Honor Garden at the cemetery at 1630 S.W. Pine Island Road.

“We do it to remember the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to help their families through difficult times,” said Chuck Warren, Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery manager and an Air Force veteran.

Pastor Tommy Rickards of Grace Life Church will serve as chaplain; Mayor John Sullivan will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and guest speakers will include Wade Fontenot, Honor Guard Captain of VFW Post 8463; Dennie Clark, JROTC Cape Coral High School and VFW Post 8463; Vincent A. Cummings, major, USAFR-retired; and Warren, who is the chairman of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Burial Veterans Program, according to a prepared statement released Thursday.

The ceremony also will include the barbershop quartet, “The Sun-Sations,” who will perform patriotic songs; a “Roll Call” of veterans who have passed; a ceremonial fly-over by a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, a 21 white dove release by Southwest Florida White Doves, and a motorcycle memorial ride-in by Elk’s Riders U.S.A.

Other participants will include The Harney Point VFW 8463 and American Legion Post 90 as well as various Boy and Cub Scouts who will pass out American flags to all who attend.

Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served, and attendees will have the opportunity to take a rubbing of their loved one’s name on the Honor Wall.

Across the river, Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery also will hold a Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday. “A Time to Remember” will begin at 9:30 a.m.

“We’ll be having patriotic songs; color guard; a flyover; speakers including the National Commander of the Combat Infantryman’s Association Bill Cross; Sheriff Mike Scott will be there; Chauncey Goss will be saying a few words – he’s running for Congress; taps and bagpipers,” said Donnell Sullivan, general manager for Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery.

The ceremony has had a long tenure in Lee County, and it is always well attended with 700 people taking part last year.

“We just have a special place in our heart for the veterans, period,” Sullivan said. “But those that gave the ultimate sacrifice deserve a suitable commemoration for their service, they and their families.”

The ceremony will be followed with refreshments, a buffet-style barbecue luncheon of hot dogs, hamburgers and various sides. There is no charge.

“It’s our gift to the community,” Sullivan said.

New this year will be a photo contest.

The public is invited to submit a maximum of six photographs taken on the grounds at 1589 Colonial Blvd. from May 26 through May 28. Entries, which will not be returned, must be at least 5 by 7 inches if printed. JPG, TIF or PSD formats submitted via disc must be at least 150 dpi and at least 5 by 7 inches. Entries may be mailed or hand delivered to Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery, 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, FL, 33907, but not emailed. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, June. 1.

For those who would like to get an early jump on the holiday, the Tribute to America’s Heroes will be held Sunday in Fort Myers.

The Fort Myers Recreation Division, the Lee County Chapter of the American Red Cross and American Legion Post 38 have set their event for May 27 at Centennial Park beginning at 11 a.m.

The Tribute will feature performances by gospel recording artist Gayla James, Lee County “Young Artist of the Year” Sam Bostic, Ancelyn Willis and Fort Myers Police Department Officer Yvetta Dominque, according to a prepared statement.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will provide both a rifle salute and fly over, the Fort Myers Police Department will present the Colors, and the Coast Guard will lay a wreath on the Caloosahatchee River, organizers said.

For those who also wish to remember those serving now, the American Red Cross will be accepting items for care packages for deployed troops.

The organization is seeking items such as individually wrapped pieces of hard candy and gum, microwave popcorn, nuts, pretzels and other snack foods, travel size wipes, sunscreen, lip balm, foot powder; Kool-Aid and other drink mixes, toiletry items such as shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and shower soap or gel, playing cards and puzzle books.

Concessions will be available and attendees are invited to bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating, organizers said.