JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People came together Monday at Memorial Day services across Northeast Florida to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States armed forces.
Here are some of the different events commemorating Memorial Day this year.
Volunteers step in for families unable to visit gravesites of fallen heroes
Travis Manion Foundation, along with Wounded Warrior Project and AmeriCorps, on Monday hosted the Honor Project, an event where volunteers come together to stand in for military families of the fallen unable to visit their loved ones around Memorial Day.
Monday’s event took place at the Jacksonville National Cemetery.
“From myself and all of my WWP teammates, it’s really an honor to be here today and partner with the Travis Manion Foundation,” said Gen. Mike Linnington, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project. “This is a day across the country where we honor the sacrifice of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Through the Honor Project, loved ones of fallen service members request a personal visit to their fallen hero. On Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, hundreds of volunteers from across the country personally visit and place Flags of Valor wooden coins at each hero’s internment location, paying their respects and pausing to reflect on the sacrifices of those service members.
“The Travis Manion Foundation is named for a Marine who was killed in 2007. We are just a community of veterans and family of the fallen who want to serve in honor of the fallen,” said Molly Barnick, Travis Manion Foundation’s chief strategic communications officer. “The Honor Project actually started two years ago in the height of the pandemic in 2020, and it started because there were so many families who couldn’t get access to the cemetery and couldn’t see their loved one or couldn’t travel.”
Anne Donne, who retired from the Army National Guard, was one of the volunteers on Monday who checked in, collected commemorative coins for the Honor Project and placed them on gravesites of fallen heroes.
“I did serve in the military. I am honestly very honored to be able to take the time. I think that the living, for us, it’s the very least we could do to honor them,” Donne said. “Remember that there are people that gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be able to do what we do every single day.”
Military working dogs remembered during service
Jacksonville Pet Funeral Home and Pet Memorial Park on Monday held a Memorial Day service to remember military working dogs.
During the service, a section of the military K-9 memorial section was dedicated to K9s For Warriors, and a K9s For Warriors service dog who died earlier this month was memorialized.
At the park, there are five memorial pavers dedicated to service dogs, including military service dogs and 9/11 search and rescue dogs.
The service began at 1 p.m. and was open to the public. The ceremony included bagpipes, taps played on a trumpet and a gun salute to honor dogs in the military.
Green Cove Springs hosts 34th Annual Memorial Day RiverFest
The city of Green Cove Springs on Monday hosted its 34th Annual Memorial Day RiverFest in Spring Park.
The event kicked off at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to run until 9 p.m.
The city begins the festival every year with an opening ceremony during which about 150 veterans from Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia are recognized both individually and by military branch. The highlight of the ceremony is a flyover by Dreamland Squadron to recognize all military that died in combat. An Old Glory presentation, wreath laying, bell ringing and a performance of taps were added to this year’s ceremony.
Military vehicle and memorabilia displays provided by the Camp Blanding Museum and Military Vehicle Preservation Association could be seen in Spring Park.
There were also about 20 local food trucks and 75 craft vendors lining the park. In addition, there was a children’s zone with horse rides and more.
The city also planned to have a rubber duck race and watermelon eating contest in the afternoon.
Festivalgoers could enjoy live entertainment, as well.
RiverFest’s annual highlights include free entry into the city’s spring-fed public pool and fireworks show over the St. Johns River.
Jacksonville honors fallen heroes
The city of Jacksonville added four names to the Veterans Memorial Wall at the annual Memorial Day Observance on Monday to honor fallen heroes.
Calvin T. Rockward III, U.S. Army; Christian M. Tette, U.S. Army; Adam D. Pecaut, U.S. Navy; and Michael L. Jordan, U.S. Navy were among the countless number of service members honored Monday morning. The ceremony featured a series of tributes from different military branches.
The free event paid tribute to the brave service members who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and served as a space for people to come together and pay homage to those sacrifices.
Service wreaths were placed in front of the Veterans Memorial Wall, which lists the names of all the Jacksonville service members who gave the greatest sacrifice for our nation. The Veterans Memorial Wall is also the second-largest memorial wall in the United States, according to the city of Jacksonville.
The Navy Band Southeast and Jacksonville Children’s Chorus also performed.