In Marco Island, the solemn observance of Memorial Day, May 27th, 2019 was captured in the emotional tribute by keynote speaker, Lee Rubenstein, Commander of the American Legion Post #404.
A beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by Mary Jo O’Regan, accompanied by the Tommie Barfield Chorus.
The Observance of Memorial Day commenced with remarks by emcee, Keith Dameron; the presentation of the Color Guard and Honor Guard; blessings from Father Tim Navin of San Marco Catholic Church and the traditional flyover by Civil Air Patrol.
Commander Rubenstein wanted to “take a moment and acknowledge those amongst us who’ve lost a loved one in the line of duty to this country. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, no words of condolence could ever begin to adequately console a survivor’s grief.”
He continued, “Every Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Memorial Day is not a day of festive parade for everyone.” “Some men and women returned from Vietnam and from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to find their sacrifices ignored, or worst, scorned. Instead of cheering crowds, they arrived home to face new battles which continue on to this day.”
Veterans arrived home only to face another battle; one for respect and appreciation. A battle to get the medical care and VA benefits they deserve. A battle for their health against long term effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic substances during war conflicts.
Veterans battle against homelessness, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse, and suicide. In fact, 22 veterans every day take their own lives.
June 6th is the 75th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. Ten million Allied service men died that day; 2,700 from Britain; 946 Canadians and 6,603 Americans.
Commander Rubenstein further read from his notes, “We continue to lose heroes every day in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and in military training accidents and in missions around the world. Some were teenagers and many were only in their 20s. Regardless of their age, to their families, they are remembered as forever young, healthy and strong.
“From the American Revolution to our current operations against terrorism, over One Million American men and women have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in war conflicts. They died so we can continue to cherish the things we love: Country, freedom and family.”
In conclusion, Commander Rubenstein, with voice at times faltering continued, “When country called, they answered; some volunteered; some were drafted; but no matter how they found their way into the ranks of the military, each took it upon him/herself to serve faithfully and to the fullest.” In their honor.
God bless America and God bless our fallen heroes.