Honoring the fallen

Oakside Cemetery returned as the site in Zephyrhills to honor the fallen.

This Memorial Day, the cemetery that is the final resting place to hundreds of veterans who served in conflicts dating back to the Civil War saw more than 200 people turnout for the annual tribute to fallen veterans.

State Senator Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills served as the keynote speaker for the event telling the crowd assembled around the veteran headstones decorated with American Flags that  Memorial Day is more than beaches and barbecue.

“Today is about freedom and sacrifice,” said Burgess, a major in the US Army Reserves. “The freedom we enjoy and the sacrifices that have been made by so many to preserve and protect those freedoms.

“This freedom is not free. Every person in uniform offers to pay for freedom with their lives — if necessary. Today especially, and every day, we need to recognize them and honor them for their willingness to make that sacrifice.”

Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield was the guest speaker for the event reflecting on the past for inspiration. He dipped back 150 years for inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“It is all together fitting and proper that we do this,” Whitefield recited from the address. “It is fitting and proper that we are here today to remember and not forget. Lincoln had it thought through for the ages I believe. We are here to remember and to be thankful for the blessing we have in this country.

“In this little cemetery, like all those around America and other places in the world today, we are recognizing and remembering those who gave it all. This is the final resting place and they fought for the cause of freedom and liberty. These men and women right here in our cemetery spilled their blood for us.”

A wreath ceremony was held where veterans and members of the local military service organizations place a carnation on to the wrath. In addition the ZFW Post 8154 Honor Guard fired the rifle salute to the fallen.

The Zephyrhills JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and local country singer Ashley Shannon sang the National Anthem and Master of Ceremonies Rod Rehrig sang God Bless America.

Vanice Holland, Champlain of the Marine Corps League Detachment    delivered the invocation and benediction.

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