The sacrifice of soldiers who gave their lives for their country is immeasurable. Honoring their memory and paying tribute to their courage is a moral responsibility and a way of preserving their legacy.
When you enter Edgewood-Greenwood Cemetery in Apopka, you will see a tall aluminum pole proudly unfurling an American flag above the grave of Corporal James Byron Pressley.
A mature, red-shouldered hawk sits on an adjacent flagpole supervising visitors, not flinching, for hours at a time.
Mr. Pressley’s wife, Monna Jean Caldwell Pressley, and daughter, Monica ‘Missy’ Pressley, proudly erected the flag post at Christmas time to honor their husband’s and father’s service in the Korean War in the United States Marine Corps and in the United States Air Force in the Vietnam War.
Pressley was born on February 2, 1930, in Lake Wales and was buried in the Greenwood section of the cemetery in 1991. Mrs. Pressley lavishly decorated the family grave sites on both sides of Fayette Street.
According to Mrs. Pressley, his mother, Ruby Pauline DeRamus Pressley, owned the corner piece of land where their graves are on Fayette Street. She offered the city the land for the cemetery.
Mrs. Pressley’s brother is across the street. She decorates his grave every season, also. PFC Caldwell left Apopka for World War II, enlisting on June 26th, 1943. He died in combat.
Pressley was honored with a Service Heroes sign at E 1st St on Park Avenue and a street named after him off North Park Avenue among three of his four friends who also died in the war - Cpt. Jack G Grossenbacher, Cpt. Richard H Wells, and Lt. Albert O. Martin Jr.
Communities that come together to honor their fallen heroes show gratitude for their service and foster a sense of patriotism and unity. It is a way of acknowledging the sacrifices made by these brave men and women and ensuring that their sacrifices are never forgotten.
But in Apopka, a soldier's sacrifice and legacy are paramount - forever.
Happy Birthday, Cpl. James Byron Pressley.
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