Salute to fallen: Memorial Day on Marco Island

Don Manley
Special to the Eagle

“In Their Honor” will be the theme of Marco Island’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, set for 11 a.m., Monday, May 27, at Veterans Community Park.

This commemoration of the sacrifice of U.S. men and women who have perished during active military service is sponsored by American Legion Post #404, Marco Island.

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This year’s event will be highlighted by several additions to the program. Among them will be the formal placement of five fresh floral arrangements, each bearing the colors of America’s military branches: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and the Coast Guard. The roughly three-foot tall arrangements will be arrayed around a large wreath, at the center of the park’s Veterans Memorial, over the top of the Great Seal of the United States. 

Members of Marco’s U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Civil Air Patrol Squadron, American Legion Post 404, the Marco Island Police Department and Marco Island Fire Rescue will comprise the program’s color guard. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Lt. Col. Richard Niess, who is celebrating his 55th year of Civil Air Patrol membership.

The reading of names of Marco veterans who have passed away over the last year will be performed by Bob Boone, commander of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron. Emcee Keith Dameron, CEO of Step Smart Collier, will provide opening and closing remarks, along with a brief history of Memorial Day. 

The event will also by highlighted by:  

  • A keynote speech by American Legion Post #404 Commander Lee Rubenstein.
  • An opening prayer by Fr. Tim Nevin of San Marco Catholic Church.
  • A ceremony honoring POWs led by American Legion Post #404’s 1st Vice Commander Bill Horton, and Sargent at Arms, Harry Weathers.
  • The “Star Spangled Banner” sung by Mary Jo O’Regen, accompanied by the Tommie Barfield Elementary chorus.
  • A musical salute to the five military branches.
  • A fly-over by Marco Island’s Civil Air Patrol Squadron.

“The most special day of the year for all veterans is the day that we remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Rubenstein. “For without their efforts we would not have America as we know it today,”

Covered seating will be available for veterans and their spouses. A large crowd is expected, so be sure to arrive early. Bring lawn chairs, as seating is limited. Veterans Community Park is located at 901 Park Ave., Marco Island.