JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At tributes and ceremonies across the country on Memorial Day, including in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, names of those who died in the past year were read aloud, while music and prayers honored all who died in service of their country.
City leaders, family and friends of local heroes gathered at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall, where five names were added during a morning ceremony.
- Justin Michael Gullatt, 26, U.S. Navy
- Robert French Kiely, 64, U.S. Army
- Michael Jason Kiernan, 40, U.S. Coast Guard
- Clarence James Roach, 31, U.S. Navy
- Kevin Tyron Williams, 41, U.S. Navy
"This wall holds the names of more than 1,700 men and women who laid their lives on the line," Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said. "Today we add five more."
"Too often holidays like today (are) a day off, or a barbeque (rather than) a day to remember those who served; those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of their country," U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Scott Buschman said.
"One of the things I encourage when we leave here ... remember those who gave all so we could enjoy these moments and these days," Curry said.
St. Augustine remembers its fallen
Hundreds gathered among the rows of white headstones at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine on Monday to reflect on the men and women who died fighting for America.
Thousands of graves fill the cemetery right next to the headquarters of the Florida National Guard.
Jack Drach, U.S. Navy retired, doesn't know anyone buried here, but says he still feels a connection.
"It's unbelievable how many people gave up their lives to serve the country," said Jack Drach, U.S. Navy retired. "Brings back the old days and remembering a lot of the guys I served with."
Penny Greene says she visits this site often to honor her brother-in-law, Earl Charles Greene, who died in 1955 while serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. She never met him.
"His older brother and sister shared many memories with us," said Greene. "That he was a very loving man. He was very patriotic and he loved his country and he loved his home here in St. Augustine."
During the ceremony, names were called of each St. Johns County military veteran who died in the past year. An honor bell rang for each branch of service.
"It's sad, but it also makes me very proud of all the service men and women who have fought and died for our country, and I don't think that should ever be forgotten," Greene said.