FELLSMERE – Gathered at Lions Park, more than three-dozen Fellsmere residents took part in a Memorial Day Observance Ceremony, remembering the nation’s fallen soldiers.
“We must honor and remember our fallen,” said Andy Westerfield, Past Post Commander of Sebastian’s American Legion Post 189, reading from a suggested American Legion speech. “But that alone is not enough. They died not just for their country, but for their comrades serving next to them.”
Westerfield recounted an incident that occurred in Iraq that cost the lives of two Marines – but those lives lost spared many more. The Marines, posted as sentries near a barracks housing 50 other military personnel in Iraq didn’t flinch when a large blue truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives came baring down on them.
The Marines, Corporal Yale and Lance Corporal Haerter, planted themselves firmly and let loose a continuous stream of gunfire upon the truck.
They died in the explosion.
“We must never lose focus of what Memorial Day means,” Westerfield said. “It’s not about beaches, picnics or auto races. It is a day to remember.”
American Legion Post 189 Commander Barney Giordan shared with the audience the history of Memorial Day, which was made a Federal holiday in 1967, after nearly 100 years of observance in individual states by military groups.
Tradition had the ceremony held on May 30 as it was not an anniversary for any major battle. But, when the Federal government made the holiday official, it selected the last Monday of May as the day, creating a 3-day weekend for many.
The American Legion, Legion Riders and the Fellsmere Lions Club placed wreaths at the veterans memorial at the park, followed by American Legion member Ed Kilbane reading “A Veteran Died Today, and member Ed Irons reading “Old Glory Speaks.”
Sebastian Honor Guard and Rifle Squad fired three shots and then Bugler Bob Bolton played Taps to close out the ceremony.