I wanted to spend Memorial Day relaxing like so many other families do, but it was important that I put some time aside and attend one of the dozens of events, communities all over Central Florida put on today to honor the heroes that have paid the ultimate price. I like to tell fellow veterans that we’re lucky to live in a community where everyone genuinely appreciates the military and takes every opportunity to show it.
I decided to attend the Orange County War Memorial Rededication at the courthouse, downtown.
I parked my car on Orange ave and stared down the quiet, main drag downtown. I forgot how tranquil downtown can be on a holiday morning like today, a different picture from the groups of college kids that run wild on Orange and Wall st. on the nights before.
As I walk up to the courthouse, I look up to the sunny sky and its a peaceful scene as I reach the memorial and the ceremony.
The media and a couple of politicians are here, but today I don’t care. They post the colors and the national anthem is sung beautifully and echoes through the streets. The ceremony is honoring SSG. Randy M. Haney, whose name will be added to the memorial today.
The guest speaker begins and I start to reflect on my time in the military. The great leaders I followed and my time in uniform that I’ll never forget and always consider returning to. The bond that the men and women in uniform share is one that lasts a lifetime and the bravery of our servicemembers is one of the finest examples of why the United States is the greatest country in the world.
Taps is played, I remember the funeral service details that I was on and led. The folding of the flag and handing it to a spouse, or a parent and hearing the words come out of my mouth “On behalf of a grateful nation…” and knowing that simple words cannot begin to describe what their sacrifice means …
SSG Haney’s name is revealed and the ceremony comes to an end. The Veteran’s Advisory Council of Orange County, could not have done it better. I observe the scene, pay my respects and make my way back to my car.
I slowly drive down Orange, there are a couple of more cars on the street as Orlando starts to get moving on this holiday. I get on I-4 and with a refreshed gratitude and understanding of this important holiday.
It’s good to live in Central Florida.