Honoring the fallen

Oakside Cemetery was the site Monday for a solemn event where the community paused to reflect on the lives of those who courageously fought and sacrificed their lives to preserve the American way of life.

Several local Zephyrhills service organizations took part in the service placing carnations on a wreath in honor of those who died serving their country. Flags were spread throughout Oakside cemetery on the graves of the hundreds of veterans laid to rest there.

Guest Speaker Zephyrhills Mayor Melonie Bahr Monson reminded the crowd that the day is not a day that focuses on picnics, sales, and parties, but the sacrifices so many have given to protect American freedom.

State Senator Danny Burgess, a US Army Reservist, served again as the Keynote Speaker, addressing a larger than normal crowd at Oakside Cemetery, a cemetery with buried veterans from more than six conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

“The message today is simple. What can we do as the living to honor the fallen?” Burgess said as he explained what he and his colleagues have done., in Tallahassee to support veterans. “There is so much we can be proud of.”

Burgess explained crucial work to preserve veterans’ stories through the creation of the Florida Veterans’ History Program to collect and preserve the stories and experiences of Florida’s veterans, as well as the state of Florida’s military contributions throughout the nation’s history.

Through the Florida Veterans’ History Program, veterans’ stories will be made available to the public so Floridians can learn about their experiences and honor the service of those who fought for our country. This will ensure heroes’ service and sacrifice is never forgotten.

“It is an incredibly important and meaningful thing we could do and I’m excited to report that it passed unanimously,” Burgess said. “Next year we want to work with our schools to incorporate these stories into their curriculum. Our kids need to understand and know the real heroes.”

Joseph Theriot delivered the welcome and the Civil Air Patrol presented the colors. Pastor Patrick Biddle gave the invocation and benediction.

Rod Rehrig of the Marine Corps League led the Pledge of Allegiance, the “National Anthem” and “God Bless America.” The VFW Post 8154 Honor Guard presented the rifle salute and played “Taps.”

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