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Editorial: In memory, in gratitude

By Staff | May 24, 2024

CHUCK BALLARO A flag and a bouquet decorates the grave of a veteran at the Coral Ridge Cemetery during the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veteran's Honor Garden on Monday.

Its birth date is disputed, its city of origin debated, but its purpose is not: Memorial Day is the day Americans remember, and honor, those who died in service to their country.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday began sometime in 1866 with the placement of spring flowers on the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War — to this day still America’s bloodiest.

Among the observances recorded, according to the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs’ website, was one in Columbus, Miss., on April 25 of that year.

“… a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.”

Whether that empathy-spurred commemoration of the fallen was first, whether it was one of the many other spontaneous efforts through North and South alike, or whether it was the remembrance held in Waterloo, N.Y., on May 5, 1866, that 100 years later was declared by Congress as the official “birthplace” of Memorial Day, the commemoration allowed a re-united but still-healing nation to come together to grieve a shared loss.

Gathering to mark a common grief continues to underpin America’s Memorial Day services today.

Memorial Day says to those who served and did not come home, you are remembered, you are missed.

Memorial Day says to the families of the fallen, we, as a country, share your loss, we are grateful.

We are eternally grateful.

As we begin our three-day weekends, plan our barbecues, trips to the beach and visits with friends and family, let us all pause, if only for a moment, to remember those who did not come home.

As always here in veteran-rich Lee County, there are a number of ways to do so, this year including two major Memorial Day services that annually attract hundreds to mark Monday’s solemn holiday and another couple of special note:

In Cape Coral, the largest of the services will again be at Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery, which will hold its 43nd annual Memorial Day service at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, in the Veterans Honor Garden at 950 Chiquita Blvd. S.

The event is free and open to the public.

Across the river, Memorial Gardens Funeral Home and Cemetery in Fort Myers will host its annual Memorial Day service with a cookout immediately following.

The service honoring local and national heroes will take place the Field of Honor at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, at 1589 Colonial Blvd.

Both events will feature various speakers and activities appropriate for the one day America remembers its war dead.

Let us highlight a dual event this year.

A special tribute to those who served on the USS Nimitz will be held here in Cape Coral on Saturday.

The open-to-the-public event will take place at Brotherhood of Heroes Military Museum & Library and will honor those who died aboard the ship that suffered a flight deck fire that resulted in 14 deaths. Forty-nine sailors were injured.

The remembrance will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Brotherhood of Heroes Military Museum & Library, meanwhile, will hold a cookout with free hamburgers and hot dogs, with ice cream to be provided by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

The veterans resource center is at 4522 Del Prado Blvd.

And one more: American Legion Post 90 at 1401 S.E. 47th St. in Cape Coral invites the public to join them for a Memorial Day “Remember and Honor” ceremony at noon on Monday, May 27.

After the ceremony free hot dogs and hamburgers will be served.

More details on these Memorial Day activities and more may be found in today’s Breeze or on-line at capecoralbreeze.com.

We thank those who serve.

We thank the families of the fallen. Such sacrifices should not, will not, go unmarked.

— Breeze editorial