Florida's Memorial Day a community affair

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    FLORIDA-Of all the holidays and special days that we celebrate and observe throughout the year, no day brings a community closer together than Memorial Day. Memorial Day 2005 in the Florida community began with an outdoor Mass at noon at St. Joseph's Cemetery celebrated by the Rev. Joseph Doran, associate pastor at St. Joseph's Parish. The freshly mowed cemetery was dotted with miniature American flags marking the graves of veterans off all wars. Following the Mass, the American Legion Post #1250 color guard led the way across Spanktown Road to the Jewish Cemetery where a brief memorial service was held. Then a short respite before the traditional parade down Florida's Main Street - a Main Street that was spruced up courtesy of the Village DPW. A Main Street adorned with two dozen new American flags compliments of the third and fourth generations of Werner's Hardware Store. And a Main Street with fire hydrants newly painted a blazing red by members of Boy Scout Troop #44. The marchers paused at the Veterans' Monument for a wreath ceremony, then proceeded to the Florida Cemetery for the final memorial services. The parade brought together the entire community, either as participants or as spectators. From the very young Daisies, Brownies, Cub Scouts, Little Leaguers to the very old, including several veterans from the World War II era. Those veterans and their comrades, living and dead, were saluted at the Florida Cemetery by a rifle salute and by grateful words expressed by several dignitaries. County Clerk Donna Benson, a Florida native, touched on her own experience. Her grandmother was a double Gold Star Mother, having lost one son in WW II and another in the Korean War. Speaking of those lost servicemen, state Sen. Thomas Morahan stressed the fact that "We do not mourn them; they're in a better place. But we do remember and honor them." Village of Florida Mayor James Pawliczek said, "Those veterans deserve our respect and gratitude as well as our promise-to work for the preservation of the American values for which they so gallantly fought." One local legionnaire of Post #1250, Raymond Grzyb, was given a plaque as a token of gratitude from his comrades for his 60 years of continuous membership and service in the American Legion. Another plaque for the same number of years will be given to John Coleman who was not present. The program was not only for the old. Jennifer Cullen, an eighth-grade student at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Florida, delivered Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," without notes, in a very forceful and confident manner. Michael Kamrowski, a fifth-grade student at Golden Hill Elementary was equally at ease reading his award-winning essay, "What the American Flag Means to Me." If anyone topped those two fine orators, it was the newly organized Florida Community Band that provided the marching music for the parade and ended the program at the cemetery with the "National Anthem." An enthusiastic group of musicians from the fifth- and sixth-grade levels, and few a bit older, they were brought together by band leader Christopher Jacquin. Legion Commander James Sosler thanked the entire community for their participation in the Memorial Day program, and lastly thanked the Florida Fire Department and Rescue Squad for providing refreshment at the fire station. Memorial Day 2005 in the Village of Florida. Norman Rockwell could have filled an art gallery.