PINELLAS COUNTY - Americans across the nation are being urged to take just one minute from their planned activities this Memorial Day to help restore the true purpose to the holiday - honoring those who died in service to this country.
According to a release from the White House Commission of Remembrance, the goal for its program, National Moment of Remembrance, is to prevail upon Americans to "pause in an act of unity at 3 p.m., local time, wherever they are on Memorial Day, for a moment of reflection honoring America's fallen and rededicating ourselves to giving back to our country in their memory."
The idea for the National Moment of Remembrance was born in May 1996 when the Commission's executive director and White House liaison, Carmella LaSpada, asked children what Memorial Day meant and received the response, "That's the day the pools open," the release explains. A Gallup poll that same year showed that only 28 percent of Americans knew the meaning of Memorial Day with most viewing it simply as a day off from work.
In an attempt to bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, the National Moment to Remember resolution was passed by Congress in December of 2000, setting the moment's time of 3 p.m. In 2001, Congress established the White House Commission of Remembrance.
According to information found at the Veterans for Foreign Wars' (VFW) Web site, vfw.com, Memorial Day, May 30 (traditional) is a "sacred day to all war veterans."
"America's collective consciousness demands that all citizens be reminded of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime. By honoring the nation's war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice. All U.S. flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon, they should be raised back to full-staff," information on the site says.
The VFW site also brings up a concern, which is echoed at www.usmemorialday.org,, about the National Holiday Act of 1971 that turned the single day of remembrance into a three-day weekend. Some feel that making Memorial Day a holiday detracts from its meaning, which they say should be more of a day of mourning instead of a day of celebration, parties and barbecues.
The National Moment to Remember program is praised on both sites as "a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day." For more information about the program, visit www.remember.gov.
The VFW site suggests ways Americans can honor the memory of U.S. Veterans who have died in combat, which include: Placing flags at gravesites, marching in parades, sponsoring patriotic programs and dedicating memorials.
Bay Pines: The Bay Pines VA Medical Center in association with the Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council (PCVLC) will sponsor the annual Bay Pines Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 31, at the Bay Pines VA National Cemetery, Bay Pines. The program will start at 9 a.m. sharp. Special guest speaker will be Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The program will last for about an hour. Colors will be presented by the Junior ROTC Marine Corps Unit from Clearwater High School and the special salute will be given by the PCVLC Honor Guard. All family and friends are invited to attend. Call voluntary services at 393-9394 or David C. Miller, PCVLC president at 393-0548.
Dunedin: The ninth annual Remembrance Service on Memorial Day, May 31, 11 a.m., will feature the Liberty Fife and Drum Corp and a reception at Church of the Good Shepherd. Retired Navy Lt. John Howe will speak. The Rev. Bob Williams will officiate. The church is at 639 Edgewater Drive. Call 733-4125.
Largo: Largo Recreation Parks and Arts Department will conduct a Memorial Day Sunset Ceremony, Monday, May 31, 7 p.m., at Largo Central Park Military Court of Honor. The keynote speaker will be retired Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Longo and the master of ceremonies will be David C. Miller, Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council. Call 587-6775.
Largo: The Largo American Legion Post 119, will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, May 31, beginning with memorial services at Largo Cemetery at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m., the Post will serve $1 hamburgers and hot dogs plus jumbo roasted turkey legs for $4.50 with all the trimmings. Music and karaoke will be performed by Bill Johnson. Public welcome. The Legion Post is at 130 First Ave. S.W. Call 584-2038.
Seminole: The Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council (PCVLC), in association with the city of Seminole, will sponsor the annual Memorial Day program on Saturday, May 29, at the Garden Sanctuary Cemetery located at 7950 131st St. in Seminole. The program will start at 10 a.m. sharp. All color guard units should report at 9:15 a.m. to get organized. The program will pay special tribute to all our World War II veterans or their spouses who attend. Carnations will be handed out in their honor. The special guest speaker will be retired Lt. Colonel Fred Edwards, United States Marine Corps. All family and friends are welcome to attend. Call David C. Miller, PCVLC president at 393-0548 or Susan Kelly at Garden Sanctuary at 391-0121. Refreshments will be provided by the Garden Sanctuary Cemetery after the program.
Seminole: The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 252 will have a Memorial Day cookout Monday, May 31, 2 to 6 p.m. At dusk, the legion will conduct a flag disposal ceremony as prescribed by flag protocol. The post is at 11433 Park Blvd. Call 391-0631.