How to Honor Veterans and Observe Memorial Day

The Sarasota National Cemetery was opened in 2009. Photo courtesy of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 in Bradenton.

The Sarasota National Cemetery was opened in 2009. Photo courtesy of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 in Bradenton.

How to do you plan to observe Memorial Day – a day set aside to remember service members who have fallen in battle and others who are no longer living.

Kurt Rotar, director of the Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell and Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, suggested visiting your nearest national cemetery to pay tribute.

You can check a VA National Cemeteries Administration map for the cemetery closest to you.

Ceremonies are planned at several Florida national cemeteries which you can attend or you can just walk among the veterans buried there.

If you can’t make it to a national cemetery, there are other ways to recognize those who have worn the uniform.

  • Fly an American Flag at your home at half-staff before noon. Then, raise the flag to full staff at noon.
  • Put flowers or flags on veterans graves at private cemeteries
  • Take time as a family to say thank you to a veteran.
  • At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day pause for a moment of silence and reflect on the veterans’ sacrifice.
  • Secretly pick-up the meal tab for an active-duty military member you see dining.

Rotar said there are more than 133,000 buried at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell which is the second busiest national cemetery in the United States. Bushnell handles close to 7,000 burial services a year. The busiest national cemetery is in Riverside, California.

By the summer of 2015, Rotar said the VA National Cemetery Administration hopes to begin burials at two new national cemeteries one in Tallahassee and one in Scottsmore that will be known as the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.

You can listen to Kurt Rotar’s interview on WUSF Public Radio or download the podcast.

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Memorial Day Weekend Ceremonies

The U.S. Special Operations Command Memorial on MacDill Air Force Base.

You can browse the VA National Cemetery website to find a Memorial Day Ceremony nearest you.

FLORIDA MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONIES:

SUNDAY, MAY 27

Veterans Memorial Park, Tampa, FL  – 10:55 a.m.- A Memorial Day Ceremony featuring Brig. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., U.S. Central Command Deputy Director of Operations, two members of the Phantom Airborne Brigade, the CENTCOM Color Guard and a POW/MIA Empty Chair Remembrance Celebration. Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr. Museum, 602 Highway 301 N. in Tampa

Sarasota National Cemetery, FL  – 1:15 p.m. – A Memorial Day Ceremony featuring Florida Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott at the Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72, Sarasota, FL.

MONDAY, MAY 28

Bushnell AMVETS Ride – 7:30 a.m. – Annual Memorial Day Ride to the National Cemetery in Bushnell an extra meeting point and early departure. AMVETS Riders Chapter 44 will be leading a ride from Tampa and meet up with the Tampa chapter of the Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club for a joint ride to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. Meet at the Ker’s Winghouse on Hwy 301 & I- 4 – Kick Stands Up at 8 a.m.

MacDill Air Force Base – 8 a.m. – The 6th Air Mobility Wing will host a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Base Flag Pole. The events include posting of the Colors, reading of a poem, laying of a wreath, remarks by 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander Col. Lenny Richoux, 21-gun salute, playing of taps and singing of America the Beautiful. Not open to the public.

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MacDill Air Force Base Marks an Early Memorial Day

MacDill Air Force Base personnel remembered their fallen comrades during an early Memorial Day ceremony.

By Alex Cook

Memorial Day isn’t until Monday, but members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines held a ceremony on MacDill Air Force Base Thursday honoring those who have died serving their country.

The mood was somber as the military formation gathered under the American flag. A 21-gun salute pierced the silence, followed by a lone bugler playing Taps.

Colonel Lenny Richoux, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, led the tribute by presenting a wreath in honor of those who gave their lives for their country.

“All who have worn the uniform know we swear to support and defend the Constitution and we’ll pay the ultimate price – make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Richoux during his speech. “These great Americans and thousands like them who heard the calling of their nation gave all they had so that we can enjoy this beautiful day in Tampa Bay in the great state of Florida, in these United States, the greatest nation on the planet.”

A steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center sat on display as a reminder of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of almost 6000 service members over the last decade.

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