Multiple events to mark Memorial Day
By TIFFANY REPECKI
A handful of Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday will provide the public with an opportunity to honor and remember those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
The Fort Myers Memorial Gardens, Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery, and Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library all have events set. One will also be held at the Iraq War Monument.
The ceremonies will feature guest speakers, patriotic music, and participation by clubs and organizations.
Coral Ridge Funeral
Home & Cemetery
Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery will kick off its ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Veterans Honor Garden, at 1630 S.W. Pine Island Road. Chuck Warren, program chairperson, explained that the local business employees veterans – such as himself, U.S. Air Force – and family members of veterans.
This will be the 34th year for the annual event.
“We just feel it is our responsibility to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” he said. “It’s just a way for us to say thank you to everyone who served.”
Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki will speak, along with John Langley, the national president of the Vietnam Dog Handler Association. Bob Hebner, past president of the Korean War Veterans Association Department of Florida, will also be on hand, as well as Jason Cunningham, a local Gold Star parent.
Warren explained that a Gold Star is given to a parent who losses a child in combat.
Some of the participating groups include the Harney Point VFW 8463, American Legion Post 90, Combat Infantrymen’s Association and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The Oasis High School Army JROTC will also be taking part, along with Boy Scout Troop 8463 and Cub Scout Pack 82.
The Cape Coral Fire Department’s Ladder Truck No. 4 will also be on hand.
“They’ll be participating by flying the flag at the entrance,” he said.
Sun-Sations, a local barber shop quartet, will perform patriotic songs for the crowd.
Warren will present the roll call of the deceased veterans, and there will be an official wreath presentation. The cemetery has an honor wall on site with the deceased veterans’ names.
“They’ll have the ability to take rubbings of their loved ones’ names,” he said.
The Lee County Mosquito Control District will provide a Huey helicopter for a flyover, and the local chapter of the Defenders Motorcycle Club and the American Legion Riders Post 90 will ride in.
“It’s a solemn event,” Warren said. “It pays tribute to the sacrifices of our service members.”
Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library
The Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library’s ceremony will start at 1 p.m. at 4820 Leonard St. Founder and President Ralph Santillo said they have hosted events in the past, but this one is special.
“We try to do something every year,” he said.
This year, the group will dedicate the new 30-foot flag pole recently installed in the parking lot.
“The mayor will be reading a proclamation claiming that the city of Cape Coral is now going to be considered a ‘Purple Heart City,'” Santillo said.
The designation honors the city’s veteran residents who have been awarded the Purple Heart.
Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman will also read a proclamation.
“We also are introducing our banner tribute program,” he said. “We have 60 banners that are being hung on the light poles on Cape Coral Parkway. The last one is going up tomorrow (Friday).”
The banners will honor individual veterans and active members of the military.
“We’ll have our regular flag ceremony,” Santillo said.
There will be another flag pole raising using a KIA flag to honor veterans killed in action.
“They flags will all fly for 30 days,” he said.
Guns n Hoses, a local bagpipe group, will play during the ceremony. Afterward, the local dance team Hot Flashz will perform for the crowd, along with the museum band. Refreshments will be served.
“It’s just an overall general open discussion day for any veteran,” Santillo said.
He encouraged the public to come out and show their support.
“This is a great day to come to our museum,” he said.
The Fort Myers Memorial Gardens will host its ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the Field of Honor, at 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Donnell Sullivan, general manager, explained that the event has been held annually for at least a dozen years and that an estimated 500 to 600 people typically attend the event.
“It’s been held for a long time,” he said.
The ceremony will consist of a helicopter flyover, participation by a color guard, playing of “Taps,” rifle salute, reading of the Gettysburg Address and more. Several speakers are lined up, including U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson and Dan Younger, of the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States.
Dr. Randy Moody, from the Sons of the American Revolution, will also take part in the ceremony, along with Ruth Geyer, who a representative from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“We’ll have several groups,” Sullivan said. “The groups that are here are really passionate about it.”
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office honor guard will be on hand for the event, as well as the Paul E. Ison Marine Corps League and the American Legion Post 38. A free cookout for the public will follow.
“It’s going to be a really moving service,” he said.
Iraq War Monument
A ceremony will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Iraq War Monument, located outside of Four Mile Cove Eco Park on Southeast 24th Terrace, according to the monument’s Facebook page.
Sawicki will speak at the event, as well as veterans from various wars, including the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The LCSO color guard will be on hand.
There will be a wreath presentation, as well as a performance by the Hot Flashz dance team.
Refreshments and seating will be provided.
Following the ceremony, attendees are urged to attend the Memorial Day event at the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library, where the Cape is going to be designated a “Purple Heart City.”