Tri-base Sailors from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Naval Station (NS) Mayport, and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, participated in the City of Jacksonville’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Wall, May 28.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, City of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Rear Adm. Sean Buck, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, served as the ceremony’s keynote speakers. Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL), Congressman Al Lawson (R-FL) and Jacksonville Chief of Staff Brian Hughes were also in attendance along with city leaders, veterans, members of the Royal Australian Navy and nearly 1,000 patriotic guests who gathered to pay their respect to the men and women who gave their lives for this country.
During the ceremony, Curry expressed his feelings of gratitude to the veterans who are a part of the city of Jacksonville, and those who have fought for freedom.
“The price of freedom is sadly, incredibly expensive,” said Curry. “There are men and women who are willing to lay down their lives for us. What I’m going to do when I leave here, and what I would ask those of you who are here, whatever it is you do today, whether its spending time with your family at the beach or at home, take a moment to pause and recognize that there is somebody who is not able to do what we do, because they gave it all so that we could.”
As a show of respect for those who gave their lives, Curry called for a moment of silence. Following the silence, Scott was invited to speak. During his remarks Scott spoke of his military service and how it shaped his life
“I loved my military service,” said Scott. “One of my goals when I became governor was to make sure that this is the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation.”
Following Scott’s remarks, Rutherford and Lawson also spoke of how the military affected their lives with Buck giving the final remarks.
“Looking out into the audience speaks volumes of Jacksonville’s genuine support to our fallen heroes,” said Buck. “It’s an honor to be at this gathering to bear witness to one our national traditions.”
Buck spoke of the history of Memorial Day and of what it means to honor the fallen.
“On this day, our nation takes time to honor those who have paid the ‘cost of admission’ and comfort their families during their times of grief,” said Buck after reading a quote from the museum at the Statue of Liberty entitled “21 simple words”.
Col. Andrew Brigand commanding officer, Blount Island Command, Buck, along with other military representatives and civic leaders, placed wreaths in front of the wall to represent each branch of service.
Wreaths were placed for each of the six new heroes, whose names were recently etched into the black granite wall, while Jacksonville Pipes and Drums played “Amazing Grace.” The names added were Gabriel A. Fuentes, Elgin E. Ross, Stephanie C. Johnson, Stephanie M. Hetland, Joseph J. Murray, and William R. Posch.
The 13th Army Band and Young Men’s Chorus of Jacksonville provided patriotic music for the event, and two F-15 Eagle pilots, assigned to the 125th Fighter Wing from Florida Air National Guard, performed a flyover.
The ceremony ended with the playing of Taps and a 21-gun Salute, after witch observers took a closer look at the wall and the wreaths that were presented.