SEBASTIAN – Several hundred Sebastian residents gathered at the Veterans Memorial at Riverview Park Monday morning to recognize and honor those who died in service to their country.
For many in the audience, it was a personal tribute to their fathers, mothers and friends, including Stephanie Eubanks, who came to recognize her dad – a Pearl Harbor survivor who passed away three years ago. Donning a Hawaiian T-shirt and a “Remember Pearl Harbor” pin, Eubanks teared up during the Memorial Day celebration.
Apologetically, she turned and said, “I get so emotional.” Memorial Day is a day to remember the fallen – whether they died in active service or years later.
“Emotions run deep,” Keynote speaker Commander Randy Lewis, USN Ret., told the audience, particularly when one examines the full meaning of Memorial Day – both the big picture as well as a personal one.
For the Sebastian River High School Navy Junior ROTC leader, Memorial Day is an opportunity for personal reflection, to remember his fellow men and women he served with and gave their lives.
“I know they were proud of their nation,” Commander Lewis said. “They died doing what they believed in.”
He urged the audience to keep their own fallen servicemen and women in their hearts and memories year-round, and asked that they work to “keep Memorial Day from being just another 3-day holiday.”
The Sebastian ceremony included the names of 91 veterans from the Sebastian area who passed away over the last year – since the last Memorial Day. Each name, read by American Legion Chaplain Byron Elsebough and VFW Chaplain Art Firman, was punctuated with a toll on a bell.
Rabbi John Goldring told the audience that there comes a time when we must recognize that which we should not have to – the death of those who served their country.
“We have to do this,” the Rabbi said. For remembering those who served means they have not and will not be forgotten – that their memories live on.