“Today, on this most sacred day we pause to reflect on what has been given and sacrificed, let us never forget. But, let us also remember what resulted from these sacrifices.” – Colonel Steven Epkins, United States Army (Retired)
May 31, 2016 — CAPE CORAL, Fla.
by Jeff Koehn, CapeCoral.com
The United States has a long history of honoring its soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces.
In fact, before there was a Memorial Day, there was Decoration Day. Established in 1868 by General John Logan, Decoration Day was created as a way to honor those soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War.
The tradition continued until after World War I when the holiday was changed to honor all soldiers who were killed during wars involving the United States dating back to the Revolutionary War. However, it was not until 1967, that Memorial Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.
Today, citizens of the United States comes together on the last Monday of May each year to honor those paid the ultimate sacrifice during times of war.
On Monday, Cape Coral joined communities around the country in honoring those soldiers with a number of ceremonies held throughout the city.
For the thirty-fifth year, Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery hosted its annual service in their Veterans Honor Garden. This year’s ceremony included a helicopter flyover by Lee County Misquito Control, guest speakers, patriotic songs, the playing of “Taps”, wreath presentation, and the reading of the Honor Roll of all veterans buried at the cemetery.
During his speech, guest speaker Retired U.S. Army Colonel Steven Epkins honored and spoke of those who lost their lives during a time of wars. But, also implored those in attendance at the ceremony to remember those who are currently serving across the world today, “While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we should not forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon.”
At the Southwest Florida Military Museum, the Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation capped off a busy weekend that included hosting a Military Ball & Dinner at the museum Saturday evening and providing a Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Fort Myers in the field behind Cultural Park Theatre on Sunday afternoon, with a Memorial Day Service at the museum on Monday.
During the day, the museum hosted two flag ceremonies and honored two of its founding members, Stanley Weinberg and Charles Muccio with special banners unveiled outside the museum.
In addition, the museum also honored Cape Coral High School graduate U.S. Army Captain Daniel Eggers, who lost his life in Afghanistan on May 29, 2004, while serving as a detachment commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
While many use the three-day holiday as a long weekend filled with barbeques and trips to the beach, Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation founder and president Ralph Santillo hopes that all American citizens will remember the true meaning of the day, “It is always great to get a little extra time to spend with your family. But, the reason we all get that extra time is the sacrifice given by our country’s true heroes, the soldiers who lost their lives on the battlefields. Remembering those brave men and women are truly what today is all about.”
To view photos from this weekend’s events, click on the links below.