BIG PHOTO GALLERY: Marco Island Memorial Day service touts continuing need for honor

World War II veteran Patricia Gross, 86, shares a lighter moment with Marco Island VFW Post 6370 Commander Dave Gardner at the Memorial Day ceremony held May 25 at the Marco Island cemetery. About 350 people attended. Quentin Roux/Staff

Photo by qr

World War II veteran Patricia Gross, 86, shares a lighter moment with Marco Island VFW Post 6370 Commander Dave Gardner at the Memorial Day ceremony held May 25 at the Marco Island cemetery. About 350 people attended. Quentin Roux/Staff

Video

Memorial Day is synonymous with Taps, and Marco presented a three-part exchange. In the video  is Craig Gruesel, who comes in with his haunting contribution after the first few distant notes

Memorial Day is synonymous with Taps, and Marco presented a three-part exchange. In the video is Craig Gruesel, who comes in with his haunting contribution after the first few distant notes Watch »

— Still fitting perfectly into the conservative blue U.S. Coast Guard uniform she wore during World War II, 86-year-old Patricia Gross drew special mention Monday at the Marco Island Memorial Day ceremony.

Gross bowed her head during prayers, put her hand on her chest during the pledge and the national anthem, and sang and clapped along to patriotic songs during a 45-minute ceremony.

About 350 attended, including veterans, members of local civic organizations and citizens who have ties in their families to veterans.

Marco Island VFW Post Commander Dave Gardner introduced Gross to the gathering, as applause resonated.

She gave a simple “thank you” before returning to her seat.

In his address, Gardner drew attention to a recent letter to the Editor in the Naples Daily News.

The writer, although thankful for sacrifices on the part of young service men and women through the years, questioned the relevance of continuing remembrances after such a long time.

“Enough already ... an entitlement mentality just muddles my mind,” Gardner quoted the writer as saying.

In the same edition and by way of poignant contrast, Gardner said, Daily News Editor Phil Lewis wrote about citizens of a Dutch community who make it their duty to place flowers on the graves of 8,300 American soldiers each Christmas and Memorial Day.

“(They) took it upon themselves to visit GI graves, lay flowers and symbolically stand in for American families separated by an ocean from their fallen loved ones,” Lewis wrote.

Americans do indeed have an “entitlement memory,” Gardner argued.

“We take care of our veterans with care for their wounds, physical and mental; with security in retirement for those with long service, death benefits when they pass on, and thanks for what they did to keep us free as Americans,” Gardner said.

Of the young people still fighting for the United States today, Gardner said: “They deserve our support, not the thought that someday their sacrifice will be washed away by people who say ‘enough already.’”

After Monday’s ceremony, former VFW Post 6370 Commander Mike Skrzynski noted that attendance has increased each year since the Marco ceremony’s initial event 19 years ago.

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