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Local ceremonies mark significance of Memorial Day
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Flags adorn the graves of American military members to honor their service.
At 3 p.m. Monday, May 26, many Americans will stop whatever they are doing for one minute to remember all those who have died while serving in the U.S. military.

The goal of the National Moment of Remembrance, started in 2000 by former President Bill Clinton, is to increase awareness and respect for Memorial Day. Officials were concerned that too many Americans observed the holiday as more of a time for personal parties and celebrations. Too few were remembering the significance of the day – to honor those who had given their life defending their country.

In a White House memorandum issued May 2, 2000, Clinton asked that “all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom.”

National Moment of Remembrance became a “simple and unifying way to commemorate” the sacrifices made by those who served and died.

There are other ways to observe Memorial Day. One is to fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon to mark the national “Day of Mourning.” Other suggestions include visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on graves, or pledging to help widows and orphans left behind or to offer aid to disabled veterans. Another is to attend a local memorial service.

Local ceremonies planned

• Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will commemorate Memorial Day with a ceremony on Monday, May 26, 10 a.m., at the Bay Pines National Cemetery, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., the only National Cemetery in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and typically the largest local observance of Memorial Day with more than 3,000 in attendance.

The nearly 34,000 graves at the cemetery will be marked with U.S. flags to honor the men and women who served the nation.

Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory will host the 2014 event, which will include musical performances, a firing salute, and taps performance. New to the event this year will be the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team – the only amputee color guard unit in the United States.

Guest speakers include Bay Pines VAHCS Director Suzanne Klinker, Saint Petersburg VA Regional Office Director Kerrie Witty and Florida National Cemetery Assistant Director Maurice Roan. Annette Kirk, American Gold Star Mothers, will provide the keynote speech. Kirk is the mother of Pfc. Paul Cuzzupe II who gave his life in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.

Parking is available nearby. Shuttles will provide transportation for guests from parking lots to the cemetery. The venue is handicapped accessible. A sign language interpreter will be available for the hearing impaired. For more information, call the cemetery office at 398-9426.

• The city of Largo hosts a Memorial Day ceremony May 26 at 7 p.m. at Largo Central Park's Military Court of Honor, 101 Central Park Drive. The event will include a color guard presentation, music and a wreath presentation in remembrance of U.S. fallen soldiers. The ceremony will also feature, keynote speaker, LTC Cynthia Cook, USAR from US CENTCOM, MacDill AFB, Tampa. For more information, visit Largo­Event­ or call (727)587-6740 ex. 5014.

• St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church, 2790 Sunny Breeze Ave. in Largo, invites the community to attend the annual outdoor Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 26, 11 a.m. The ceremony will take place on the lawn. The Sons of the American Revolution will present the colors, followed by the salute to the flag and singing of the national anthem. Speaker is Barbara Haselden, chairman of S. Pinellas 912. Those attending should bring chairs.

• American Legion Post 273, 600 American Legion Drive in Madeira Beach, hosts its annual Memorial Day celebration Monday, May 26 at 11 a.m. A cookout will follow on the patio. For more information, call 398-5680 or email

• Boy Scouts will decorate veterans’ graves with flags starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Cycadia Cemetery, 1005 East Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs.

• American Legion Post 46 will host a Memorial Day Service at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 25, at Cycadia Cemetery, 1005 East Tarpon Springs.

• A Memorial Day Service on May 26 begins at 10 a.m. at Veterans’ Monument at Craig Park, 100 Beekman Lane. The service is sponsored American Legion Post 46 and the Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge. A barbecue will follow.
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