Honoring the fallen
For 30 years, Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery has held a tribute on Memorial Day for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.
This year was no different, with several hundred people braving the early summer heat to pay tribute in the Veterans Honor Garden along with Gold Star families, city dignitaries and veterans from all branches of the military.
Chuck Warren, program chairman, served as emcee for the event, and said citizens owe the servicemembers “an unending debt of gratitude for the sacrifice they made, the pain they endured and the hardship they suffered to ensure the flame of freedom would never be extinguished.”
Mayor Joe Coviello issued a proclamation and said the day is a reminder of service and sacrifice.
“We enjoy the opportunity to pursue our dreams, move freely, vote, voice our displeasure about government decisions and worship how we choose,” Coviello said. “These freedoms are usually taken for granted, while our servicemembers are sent into harm’s way to protect us from those trying to threaten our way of life.”
Col. Thomas Wagner called Memorial Day a day unlike any other, and told the story of Francis Scott Key and the events that led to his writing the National Anthem.
When Fort McHenry was being bombarded by British artillery at sea, Key was reminded by words spoken by George Washington, said Wagner.
“What sets Americans apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he lives on his knees,” Wagner said, adding that those who kept the torn-up flag upright were the bodies of American soldiers.
Noreen Chervinski, a veteran advocate, spoke about volunteerism, and State Rep. Spencer Roach, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, spoke of how many small children were in attendance.
“John F. Kennedy said ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ So many of our fallen never even asked, they just did,” Chervinski said. “They were just everyday heroes who displayed bravery and commitment beyond our imagination.”
“Remind these children that under many of these stones lie the bones of people who have given the ultimate sacrifice, but their spirit lives on,” Roach said.
As an added bonus, Gold Star parents William and Margaret Eggers also spoke. Their son, Capt. Daniel Eggers, was killed in action on May 29, 2004, in Afghanistan, Memorial Day weekend.
“Memorial Day has a personal meaning now and the National Anthem has become a hell of a lot more personal,” Eggers said. “When I was asked why, I responded with the last six words of the National Anthem. Those six words should be a slogan for Memorial Day.”
The event featured song from Chazz Lively and Linda Fazioli, who sang the National Anthem and the Armed Forces Medley, and Roy St. Onge, a Vietnam veteran, who sang “God Bless the USA.”
It also included traditional elements such as the wreath ceremony, a flyover from a Douglas DC-3, a gun salute from the VFW Post 8463, and the playing of “Taps.”
Warren said everything went smoothly, as it always does, while lamenting some still don’t know the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“The important thing is getting it out to the young people that it’s about the history,” Warren said. “Everyone showed the reverence for this day. We appreciate everyone who remembered the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
“This is always a great event and really highlights what this day is all about,” Roach said. “I was grateful to see all the young children who came out. We want them to enjoy this day, but appreciate the sacrifices that were made.”