Memorial Day is over but you can still stand up for troops and vets
By Mitch Traphagen
SUN CITY CENTER — Retired Navy Commander Edward Socha rang the bell for each branch of U.S. military. The bell rang clearly in the hushed silence of the filled-to-capacity Borini Auditorium at Kings Point. One hundred and seventy-nine names of comrades who have departed this life since last Memorial Day were read. Then, the mournful, respectful sound of a trumpet playing Taps.
For Cmdr. Socha, a veteran of World War II, of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and now of 22 Memorial Day ceremonies in Sun City Center, it was a touching moment. “This is one of the largest crowds we’ve had,” he said. Veterans, Socha included, have not been forgotten on this Memorial Day.
The featured speaker for the event, Colonel James D. Shumway, IV, spoke of duty and honor in the military and of remembrance. For those in the audience, including several elected officials, the honor was theirs to recognize those who gave, as President Lincoln said, their last full measure of devotion to this nation. Theirs to recognize those in the past and those today who put their lives on the line for America.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a 20-year Navy veteran, was overwhelmed as a flag-bearing surrogate stood while each name of the departed was called out during the ceremony.
“I was honored to participate in today’s MOAA Memorial Observance at Sun City Center,” Sharpe said after the ceremony. “America was built by the men and woman of Sun City — and her freedom and liberty defended by the same. We all owe Sun City an enormous debt of gratitude.”
Memorial Day is now over, but it is still possible to remember our troops. Through the USO, $25 donations can be made for care packages sent to deployed troops. The packages contain requested and needed items with a value of approximately $75. For more information or to make a tax-deductible online donation go to www.uso.org.
Also, volunteer opportunities are available at National Cemeteries. For information about the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell call 352-793-7740 or visit www.cem.va.gov/cems/florida.asp. Information about Sarasota National Cemetery, one of nation’s newest, is available at 941-922-7200 or by visiting www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/sarasota.asp.
For many Americans, Memorial Day isn’t limited to the last Monday in May — honoring and remembering the nation’s troops is an everyday exercise. For the troops deployed, there was no Monday off from work. They continued on and prepared to sacrifice all to protect the nation. Tomorrow. Next week. Next month. Through their sacrifice, they have earned a day of remembrance and much more.