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Many events planned in Cape, Fort Myers to observe Memorial Day

By Staff | May 27, 2016

Several events are planned in Cape Coral and Fort Myers in observance of Memorial Day.

Monday will mark the federal holiday set aside for remembering those who died while serving in America’s Armed Forces. Ceremonies are planned at the Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery in the Cape and the Fort Myers Memorial Gardens in Fort Myers. Both events are open to the public.

The Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library will also hold a ceremony on its grounds on Memorial Day, with another separate ceremony to take place at the Iraq War Monument at Eco Park. On Saturday, Six Bends Harley-Davidson in Fort Myers has planned a free barbecue for the public.

* Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery

Marking its 35th year, Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery will host its Memorial Day Remembrance from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Veterans Honor Garden at 1630 S.W. Pine Island Road.

“We just like to bring different community leaders and veterans organizations together to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Chuck Warren, the program chair, said.

Last year, approximately 400 people attended.

“It grows every year it seems like,” the U.S. Air Force veteran said.

A tent and seating will be set up.

“We start off with a motorcycle ride by the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders,” he said.

The Cape Coral Fire Department will have two aerial ladder trucks taking part, while the Cape police department’s Special Operations Team and Lee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit will be on hand.

There will be a flyover salute by the Lee County Mosquito Control District’s Huey helicopter.

“We have some patriotic music,” Warren said.

Guest speakers will include U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Teal Travis, who is a medically discharged veteran; Ret. U.S. Army Col. Steven Epkins, the senior Army instructor for the JROTC at Oasis High School; and U.S. Army veteran James Cunningham, a local Gold Star parent who has lost his son.

“Gold Star describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service,” he said.

Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will hand out programs and American flags to the attendees, while the Harney Point VFW Post 8463 honor guard and Oasis High’s JROTC cadets take part in the ceremony.

There will also be a memorial wreath presentation at the main flag pole.

Etching paper will be provided so families can take a rubbing of their loved one’s name.

“Everyone that we’ve taken care of in the past as a veteran,” Warren said. “Their names are etched into our Memorial Wall.”

Food and beverages will be available afterward.

“Our main focus is on the families, the families who have lost people,” he said. “Our main focal point is on the survivors and the family members, so we can honor everyone who has passed away.”

For more information, call (239) 283-0540 or visit: www.coralridgecemetery.com.

* Fort Myers Memorial Gardens

Also an ongoing annual tradition, the Fort Myers Memorial Gardens will hold its Memorial Day ceremony starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Field of Honor, at 1589 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.

“Memorial Day is when we honor people who have passed away and being able to do it for veterans is very special for us,” Donnell Sullivan, general manager of the Fort Myers Memorial Gardens, said.

Last year, approximately 500 people attended.

“We’re kind of planning on more because of the speakers (this year),” he said.

The guest speakers are U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jeff Kyle, brother of “American Sniper” Navy Seal Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle, and U.S. Army POW Spc. Shoshana Johnson, from the Iraq War.

“It kicks off with a flyover and bagpipes,” Sullivan said.

The Lee County Mosquito Control District’s Huey helicopter will take part, along with the LCSO’s honor guard. The Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem will be recited, followed by the speakers.

“At the end will be the honoring portion,” he said.

A wreath will be laid on the grave of a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Well-known U.S. Marine Pfc. Paul E. Ison, who passed away in 2001, will also have a wreath laid upon his grave.

“We’ll be laying a wreath in our Field of Honor, as well,” Sullivan said.

The 30- to 40-minute ceremony will wrap up with a rifle salute and the playing of “Taps.”

A free cookout of burgers, hot dogs, pastas and drinks will follow.

“This event takes place in a memorial garden for Memorial Day, so that’s kind of appropriate,” he said. “We just feel that we’ve got the most unique setting for a service like this.”

For more information, call (239) 344-7110 or visit: www.fortmyersmemorial.com.

* Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library

The Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library will host its Memorial Day Ceremonies, which has become another tradition in the Cape, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on its grounds at 4820 Leonard St.

“It’s designed to make people aware there is a day set aside for all of our past veterans to be honored,” Ralph Santillo, founder and president of the Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library, said.

Last year, between 600 and 800 people attended.

“We were amazed, to be honest,” he said, adding that organizers only expected 100 to 200 people to show. “We think we’re going to probably exceed what we did last year. We’re hoping for that.”

At 9 a.m., a ceremony will be held with the American flag secured at half-staff. The flag will later be hoisted to full height at noon during a second ceremony, with a memorial are planned for Stanley Weinberg and Charles Muccio, who helped to co-found the museum and library before passing away.

“We had two special banners made in their behalf,” Santillo said.

Guest speakers will include Mayor Marni Sawicki and Ret. U.S. Army Special Forces Col. Nick Hubbell. State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto was also invited to speak and may be in attendance.

From noon to 3 p.m., the museum will host an open house for the public.

“We’re having hot dogs and hamburgers,” he said.

A flag retirement ceremony will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. for those interested.

“People don’t know what to do with old flags,” Santillo said.

The day’s activities will conclude at 3 p.m. with a Moment of Remembrance and playing of “Taps.” There will be a memorial for U.S. Army Capt. Daniel W. Eggers, 28, who died May 29, 2004.

“We’re celebrating a local veteran’s life,” he said.

There is a display at the museum for Eggers and a new piece will be added.

“Our museum makes it special, that’s the key to our day,” Santillo said, noting that there are various exhibits and items to look over. “Folks can come and talk to veterans that are going to be here.”

For more information, call (239) 910-5699 or visit: swfmm.org.

* Iraq War Monument

For the third year in a row, a Memorial Day ceremony will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Iraq War Monument, located at the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve on Southeast 23rd Terrace.

“This will be our biggest one yet,” Michelle Rosenberger, the monument chairperson, said.

Last year, approximately 100 people attended.

“It’s to honor our fallen service members,” she said.

Among the day’s lineup of guest speakers are U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Matt Doyle, U.S. Navy Seal MAII Michael Monsoor, Army POW Spc. Shoshana Johnson and Marine Corps Sgt. Jeff Kyle.

Rosenberger noted that Johnson will put on her black dog tag for POWs.

“Jeff will be putting on the fourth and final Medal of Honor recipient on the Star of Heroes,” she said.

There will be patriotic music performed and a 21-gun salute, along with two helicopter flyovers planned at about noon, curtsy of the LCSO and the Lee County Mosquito Control District.

“That’s when the flags go from half-mast to full staff,” Rosenberger said.

Seating will be provided by the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department.

For more information, contact (239) 784-8657 or email iraqmonument@yahoo.com.

Six Bends Harley-Davidson

Free and open to the public, Six Bends Harley-Davidson has planned a Memorial Day weekend barbecue to be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 9501 Thunder Road in Fort Myers.

There will be a special visit by Marine Corps Sgt. Jeff Kyle from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Local musician Patrick Murphy and the band Railhead will provide a live mix of country, southern rock and bluegrass, while attendees enjoy complimentary hot dogs, burgers, apple pie, ice cream and more.

For more information, call (239) 275-4647 or visit: www.sixbendshd.com.