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Honoring those who have given all: Many ways to pay tribute to veterans who have fallen

By Staff | May 23, 2019

While Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, the day is designated to remember all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country.

There are many ways in which residents in the Southwest Florida area can pay tribute to members of our fallen military by way of events and remembrances:

* Coral Ridge

The 38th annual Memorial Day Remembrance held by Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery takes place Monday at 10 a.m. at 1630 S.W. Pine Island Road in Cape Coral.

“The annual Memorial Day observance is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have served and who have sacrificed,” said Chuck Warren of Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery. “We hope the families who join us for the service will gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of honoring our military, whether that is those currently serving or veterans who served in the past.”

The event is free and open to the public, with refreshments served following the service.

Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as read a proclamation from the city.

Gold Star parents and families will be special guests of the funeral home. Chazz Lavely, Linda Faziolo, “JukeBox” and U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran Roy St. Onge will perform patriotic songs in the Veterans Honor Garden.

This year’s keynote speakers will include Rep. Spencer Roach, U.S. Coast Guard, retired; Margaret and Bill Eggers, Gold Star parents of Capt. Daniel Eggers, U.S. Army; Col. Tom Wagner, Field Artillery U.S. Army, retired and Noreen Chervinski.

“As a local business that employs veterans — and family members of veterans, we feel a much greater responsibility to honor the true heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our amazing country, and to assist their families through difficult times. To us, every day is Memorial Day. Let us honor these true heroes,” said Warren.

A powerful moment will come during a “roll call” of deceased veterans by Warren, a U.S Air Force veteran in his own right.

A unique remembrance also is available for families of fallen veterans buried in the Honor Garden on the Memorial Wall. Located next to the large flag pole, a rubbing of your loved-one’s name can be taken as a memoriam.

“All veterans will have a flag placed at their grave from Memorial Day until Flag Day; it’s my policy,” said Warren.

There will be a ceremonial fly-over by a World War II era C047 aircraft from the Lee County Mosquito control, as well as a ride-in by the American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard.

Other participants in the ceremony will be Harney Point VFW 8463, American Legion Post 90, Vietnam Veterans of America Firebase Chapter 594, Combat Infantrymen’s Association, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Oasis High School Army JROTC “Shark Battalion,” Boy Scout Troop 8463, Cub Scout Pack 82, Cape Coral Fire Department, Cape Coral Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Warren, who also is chairman of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program in Cape Coral, will speak on the need to honor and provide services for homeless veterans in Southwest Florida, as well as suicide prevention and awareness.

“It is our responsibility to all pause, honor, remember and memorialize the fallen, ensuring their legacies never die and truly make Memorial Day matter,” Warren said.

There will be a convoy to Cape Coral Parkway for the inaugural Memorial Day Parade following the service.

* Memorial Gardens

Fort Myers Memorial Gardens will hold its annual Memorial Day Event this Monday, at 9:30 a.m. at 1589 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.

“Please join Fort Myers Memorial gardens for our Annual Memorial Day Event, as we honor our nation’s fallen and pay special homage to local service members, both at home and abroad,” said the funeral home and cemetery’s website.

Memorial Gardens will place flags on each veteran’s grave starting on Saturday morning, as the cemetery is now the resting place of thousands of former military members who lost their lives.

“Memorializing, to us, is what we do. It’s a way to honor those who died so that we can be free,” said Donnell Sullivan, general manager at Memorial Gardens.

The ceremony will begin with a fly-over by Lee County Mosquito Control.

The keynote speaker this year will be Dru DiMattia, former U.S. Merchant Marine, who has helped champion the efforts of the new Merchant Marine memorial in Eco Park in Cape Coral.

Tiffany Bach will perform the national anthem. George Cook will play the bagpipe, and Dr. Moody of the Sons of the American Revolution will lead the day’s prayer.

A special touch at Memorial Gardens will be the decorating of the veterans’ graves.

“Decorating the graves brings a weight to the ceremony that doesn’t happen the rest of the year,” said Sullivan.

Grant Stein from Memorial Gardens will serve as the emcee for the event.

American Legion Post 38 always has a big involvement, said Sullivan, and this year’s honor guard will be the Jr. JROTC from Cypress Lake High School.

“It’s moving,” Sullivan said of the group that gathers together to pay tribute to fallen veterans. “It’s amazing to see everyone, especially the number of young people effected by their parents and grandparents stories and service.”

A barbecue buffet lunch will be served in our Colonial Family Center once the event has concluded.

The event is free and open to the public.

* Eco Park

A Memorial Day remembrance will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, hosted by Pfc. Michelle Sisco Rosenberger at the Iraq Monument on 2061 SE 24th St. in Cape Coral.

The newly constructed Merchant Marine and Navy Armed Guard monument will be dedicated as well.

“This is a day to remember our fallen military members and pay tribe to them,” said Rosenberger.

Among those to be honored will be fallen Army Pfc. Greg Goodrich, who died April 9, 2004, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Goodrich was part of a fuel convoy from the Bartonville-based 724th Transportation Company that was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, accruing to the Defense Department.

His dog tags will be added to the monument in Eco Park.

Another fallen hero to be remembered is Army Major Brent Taylor, who died Nov. 3, 2018, during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan due to an “insider attack.”

Taylor was on his fourth deployment, having served in Iraq twice before and Afghanistan in 2012.

Rosenberger plans to have his widow place his dog tags on the monument later this year.

“Retreat and To The Colors” will be performed by Richard Osman, USAF A1C. Posting of the Colors will be done by the Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guard.

The national anthem will be performed by A’Layahna Checo, Cypress Lake High School Center of the Arts graduate.

Mayor Joe Coviello will read a proclamation, and Chaplain John Petriska will serve as chaplain.

Other guest speakers will include U.S. Army CWO2 Mike Giallombardo, U.S. Army Sgt. Mike Dreikorn, U.S. Army LTC Christopher Crowly and U.S. Merchant Marine Dave Yoho.

A 21-gun salute will be done by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Taps will be performed by Richard Osman, USAF A1C.

The Merchant Marine memorial in Eco Park will feature a Ship’s Bronze Wheel (or propellor), a granite memorial stone, plaque and U.S. Merchant Marine flag.

The granite stone inscripture will read: “A memorial to all who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Navy Armed Guard. ‘In Peace and War.'”

It will also detail the lost lives of 6,839 Merchant Marines, as well as the 1,810 lives of Naval Armed guardsman, accompanied by an image of a Liberty Ship.

These pieces, along with engineering and site design, all were donated by local businesses.

* Memorial Day Weekend Kick Off Party – tonight

A Memorial Day Weekend Kick Off Party will be lighting up Fort Myers Beach this Memorial Day Weekend, providing locals and visitors the opportunity to sample music from nationally-recognized and local country music performers.

Presented by Dive Bar Country and the Merchants of Old San Carlos, the open-air concert and street party will play host to Nashville country music singer/songwriters Hayden Coffman, Bryce Mauldin, as well as “The Voice” alum Sheena Brook and Unforgiven Country Band.

Fresh off the “New from Nashville Tour,” Hayden Coffman, Bryce Mauldin will perform their original music as well as country music favorites along with host Sheena Brook and local country rock band, Unforgiven.

The festivities will kick off at 5 p.m. today, Friday, May 24, Bayside Park on Old San Carlos Boulevard right next to Nervous Nellies on Fort Myers Beach.

Tickets are a $20 donation and are available for purchase online and will be at the gate. All attendees will be given “Discount Passport” wristbands that will provide concert-goers with exclusive access to food and drink specials from the merchants on Old San Carlos Boulevard all weekend long.

Package proceeds from the New From Nashville – Dive Bar Country Tour stop on Fort Myers Beach will benefit the Lewis P. Tabarrini Children’s Music Outreach Foundation, which provides musical instruments and music lessons to children in Southwest Florida who want to play music but do not have the resources to make their dreams come true. Support the Tabarrini Foundation at www.tabarrinifoundation.org or call (239) 980-4991.

Bayside Park is at 1131 First St, Fort Myers Beach.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.divebarcountry.com or call 239-470-5611.

* Zoomers

Zoomers Amusement Park at 17455 Summerlin Road in Fort Myers in offering buy-one-get-one wristbands on Memorial Day.

“Bring a friend and enjoy all the go-karts, mini golf, and rides you want!” said Zoomer’s Facebook page.

The park is open 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Monday, with lots of “race-eat-play,” opportunities for kids and adults alike.

* Sandoval 5K

This 5K walk/run is in the Sandoval Community, beginning at the Sandoval Community Club House and careens through the neighborhood. The Memorial Day 5K on Monday is intended for all ages and all levels of fitness, said the event information. It is $30 for adults, $20 for children up to 18, and $65 for a family of three to six.

The event will begin at 7 a.m.

T-shirts will be available for the first 250 registered participants, as well as cash prizes and door prizes.

There are also many different age group prizes from children to seniors.

A portion of the proceeds will go towards Mission United, an organization that addresses the “complicated and fragmented systems for veteran services currently in place.” Mission United is a United Way initiative.

Those interested can register at active.com by searching “Sandoval 5K,” or at The Run Shoppe Cape Coral location at 1407 Cape Coral Parkway E.

Day-of-race registration is an additional $5 to the existing rates.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj