MARCO ISLAND — Generally, brandishing a pistol in a bank lobby is not a good idea. But Monday, Keith Dameron got away with it.
Dameron and his Iberia Bank staff welcomed the participants in Marco Island’s Memorial Day celebration, held at the Marco Cemetery on the opposite corner of Elkcam Circle and Bald Eagle Drive, to view a display of war memorabilia from the island’s veterans, and enjoy refreshments and cold drinks.
“You know we had a big turnout – there was no cake left over,” said Dameron, after the crowd that packed the bank had dissipated. That is when he – carefully, safely – held up the Colt automatic, at one time an officer’s sidearm, to get a closer look.
The cake was decorated by Publix to be an exact copy of the plan for the new Veteran’s Memorial scheduled to be unveiled on Veterans’s Day, November 11, where future Memorial Day ceremonies will be held. Dameron, who is on the fund-raising committee for the memorial, has slated the bank’s June 18 shred party as a benefit for the project.
With the bank lobby decorated with a score of flags, islanders also wearing red, white and blue looked over the items Marco’s veterans had pulled out of their closets or trophy cases to display. A Japanese samurai sword shared space with a Luftwaffe officer’s sword and dagger, and a homemade flag indicated it had been captured from the Vietcong.
Some displays were intensely personal. Owen Carr displayed his Army Air Force uniform complete with Purple Heart, along with a 20 mm cannon shell like the one fired by a Japanese Zero, a fighter plane, as he manned the right waist gun in a B-24 bomber attacking Bougainville in 1943. Carr lost a leg that day, August 26, 1943, not quite 19 years old.
Carol Roberts displayed the quilt she made for her father’s 95th birthday, shortly before his death. It commemorated his service, including being shot down on his 50th bombing mission, and crossing the Alps to escape internment in Switzerland.
Nancy Stolliker said that among all the medals, weapons and uniforms, her favorite display was the perfume bottle filled with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy, where U.S. soldiers stormed ashore on D-Day in 1944. Kevin Nash, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq invasion, brought his wife Tina and two children to view the displays, and, in the case of one-year-old Katie, get a little icing smeared around her mouth.
Dameron said more mementos are still being received, and will be added to the display up until the June 18 shred party. Those wishing to contribute to completion of the Veterans’ Memorial may make contributions by stopping by the Iberia Bank branch, or calling (239) 389-5035.