By Mickenzie Hannon, Interning Correspondent
Apopka residents and community members gathered at the Veterans Memorial in the Edgewood/Greenwood Cemetery in Apopka on Monday to honor the lives and legacy of the military men and women who gave their lives defending America.
Commander Andy Anderson of the Apopka Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10147 opened the Memorial Day service by greeting and thanking those in attendance.
“We are here, also, to recognize all of those that did not make it back—those are the ones that we really feel for,” Anderson said.
Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson recognized the elected officials at the ceremony: Apopka City Commissioners Diane Velazquez, Kyle Becker, and Alexander H. Smith; Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore; former Apopka City Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith; and former Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer.
VFW Post 10147 Chaplain Tim Trombitas led the invocation and benediction.
“In our society today, unfortunately, there are young people who don’t know what we have been through," he said. "There are young people who don’t know our history and that they live in the greatest country of all.”
Trombitas encouraged attendees to help remind younger generations of the sacrifice servicemen and women have made for our country. After his prayer, the Apopka Police Department Color Guard and Boy Scout Troop 211 presented the posting of colors.
Boy and Girl Scout Troop 211 and Cub Scout Troops 357 and 211 also attended and participated in the Memorial Day Service. For many years, the Boy and Girl Scouts put flags on grave markers of identifiable veterans and participate in the ceremony on Memorial Day.
Chris Smith, Committee Chair of Boy and Girl Scout Troop 211, said their participation “shows the Scouts the sacrifice of both the veterans that are here living and the veterans who are no longer with us… is an organization that is built on national pride and service to others, so it’s really important.”
Following the presentation and posting of colors, Anderson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Memorial Day event also featured Lt. Steve Brick of the APD, who was the keynote speaker. Brick gave a brief history of the evolution of Memorial Day and shared stories of Marine Cpl. Charles Joseph Berry, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leonard, Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, Air Force Staff Sgt. John A. Chapman.
“We honor those who laid down their lives… Their sacrifice helped to secure our future and our freedoms,” Brick said. “I hope you all enjoy this day and celebrate with family and friends, the gift that was purchased by those we have honored.”
The crowd sang along to performances by vocalist Mark Martin, bagpipe musician Matthew Hutchinson and trumpet player Nathan Harris. Martin sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” and Matthew Hutchinson performed “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace.”
Army Spc. Peter Herschberger sounded the bell while retired Army Capt. Bill Boyd delivered the reading of fallen heroes from VFW Post 10147, which included Norm Cass Jr., William Fagg, Maurice Loso, John Sterner, and Al Tibron.
Members of VFW Post 10147 Mike Colon, Marc Delle, Jim Greene, and Joe Kara performed a gun salute, Mark Turner released four doves, Nelson and Anderson led the wreath dedication and Harris performed “Taps” to honor the fallen heroes.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us to preserve the histories and the freedoms that we have, and it’s really encouraging to see so many young people out here at a memorial service like this,” Brick said.
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