Would a traditionally dedicated 250-or-so people out of Marco’s 16.000-plus summer population turn out for just one hour in the heat to pay tribute to the military personnel who died serving the country?

They would indeed.

“We’re grateful beyond words for our fallen heroes,” said Margit France who arrived at Veterans Memorial Park just in time for the annual Memorial Day Ceremony. “We’re here to honor them. We’d brave anything for this.”

Erin Salvi attended, as she does each year, with her family.

“It’s very emotional for me,” Salvi said. “We always remember them (the fallen) in our prayers, and we think about them every day. We had a lot of military people in our family. None of them died, but we remember the others’ sacrifices.”

Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Geoff Lambert (Ret), a U.S. Army special forces veteran and present-day consultant, spoke about conflicts down the years and the lessons learned.

“We all know never to allow anyone to disrespect our servicemen and women; we demand the best kit for our fighters; we expect leaders to be judicious and wise in the use of force; we accept nothing but the best professional care for those wounded or damaged by war; and we open our arms to embrace those returning; line the streets to honor those who’ve given their lives in the pursuit of liberty,” he said.

“Sadly, many families live night and day with an emptiness a void they cannot fathom; some sit at ceremonies throughout the country with feelings of both pride and loss, and our hearts break for them. We stand for those who fell.”

Talking about fallen heroes buried all over the world, Lambert said:

“They may be dispersed, and they may be at rest, but they’re not forgotten,” Lambert said, at times choking out his words.

The program featured music by the Marco Strummers, Wes English, director, with Craig Gruesel, director of the Lutheran Church music department, performing the Star Spangled Banner and TAPS.

There were salutes to the armed services, with members of each service standing for recognition as their branch march was played. Many other Marco Island organizations were also present, as well as singers from the Marco Island Academy under the direction of Lianna Fried.

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