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Memorial Day observance

By Staff | Jun 9, 2021

To the editor:

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. This year Memorial Day occurred on Monday, May 31, and our Greater Pine Island Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4353 held a most memorable ceremony at their post Home on Stringfellow Drive. 

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The “Presentation of the Colors” by the Mariner High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) began the day followed by Patricia Stoudt’s (Mariner High School Chorus Director) wonderful rendition of our National Anthem. VFW Post Commander Tom Ferguson invited many of the active community organizations on Pine Island to attend and speak and the large crowd of over 150 enjoyed the display of comradeship between these organizations on the island. It made me proud to be a member of the Greater Pine Island VFW.

Commander Ferguson invited veterans in the crowd to stand from our recent conflicts and we were blessed to have three veterans from World War II able to join us. They received the loudest and longest applause! Michael J. Driekorn Ed.D., a candidate for Lee County Commissioner, provided an introductory speech and read a proclamation from Gov. Ron DeSantis, this was followed by our guest speaker, Major Bryan F. Williams U.S. Army (Ret). Major Williams has traveled the world with his family and retired to our area where he is the leader of the Mariner JROTC. His presentation reminded all of us of the optimistic future lead by the American youth of today.

The activities included recognition of the Gold Star Families, a wreath-laying ceremony and I was most impressed by the young cadets from Mariner JROTC performing a spectacular American Flag Folding Ceremony. Many in the crowd had not experienced this before and it was very well done. The perfectly folded flag was placed in a memorial case and then Commander Ferguson presented the flag to Ms. Mary McCune, whose husband, Jim, had passed away while performing his duties as Post 4353 Quartermaster in March. A moment of silence for POWs and MIAs was followed by the American Legion Post 136 honor guard rifle volley and the playing of taps. The large crowd was supportive and enthusiastic.

This honorable day ended with friendship and camaraderie and a wonderful luncheon was provided by the Post and their volunteers. It is my hope that we continue this tradition in the future where all our community organizations can bond together in support of each other.

Gary Lufriu,

Trustee, VFW Post 435