Along with helping veterans, community service is also a large part of the VFW and VFW Auxiliary’s mission; and Memorial Day observances started early for VFW Post 10209 and its Auxiliary. Several members visited Nobel Senior Living and Memory Care Center in Brooksville. The purpose was to recognize the residents who are veterans and to present the center with a new flag pole and POW/MIA flag. In addition, they set up the traditional POW/MIA table that is found in many veterans’ posts. They also planted flowers and did other landscaping around the outside of the facility.
District Auxiliary President, Judy Kennedy, donated the flag. Among the people accompanying her were Post Commander John Coleman, Auxiliary President Nancy Sellers, Auxiliary Chaplain Gabriella Hieb and members Steve and Anne Sikora.
Then on Monday, May 30, a large and appreciative crowd gathered at VFW Post 10209 in Spring Hill for a solemn Memorial Day ceremony. John Coleman presided over the event. It began, as is customary, with the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, VFW Post Chaplain Ted Ryon, Jr. gave the invocation.
Coleman recognized the Gold Star families who were in attendance. A Gold Star family is one that has lost a loved one in combat. Last Memorial Day, Post 10209 was re-dedicated in memory of Staff Sergeant Michael Wayne Schafer who was killed in action in Afghanistan. His grandmother, Debbie Forbes is a member of the post’s auxiliary.
Coleman stated, “There’s a time when mere words seem far from being adequate. This is such an occasion. We are gathered to recall persons who have made the supreme sacrifice and to honor their parents. Thus our deeds speak better than words.”
“We do not consider them gone,” Coleman continued, “in reality they are still very close to us. They have molded the future of our nation and give us a strong initiative to carry on our crusade for lasting peace and a better purpose in life.”
In addressing the gathering, Wayne Tuttle, a former post commander of 10209 and outgoing district commander of the regional VFWs stated, “We’re going to remember that this is a solemn occasion. This is for the people who served that can’t be here. All of us [veterans] have suffered in one way or the other, but we did what we did because we wanted to.”
U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis addressed the audience and stated his strong support for veteran’s issues, especially in relation to disabled veterans receiving their rightful benefits. He commented that there has been bi-partisan support to aid Vietnam veterans suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. He is also hoping to get bi-partisan support for veterans of the Gulf Wars who were exposed to hazardous materials in the burn pits that disposed of all types of waste. He stated that these bills will be done in the next few weeks.
“It is often said that our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it,” Bilirakis remarked.
After Congressman Bilirakis’ address, two representatives from the VFW placed a wreath in the front courtyard to honor our gone, but not forgotten, veterans. Coleman did a reading of a poem, which Johnny Cash made famous as a song. The poem is entitled “Ragged Old Flag.” A video of the song and the words to the poem can be found at: https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/10515467/Johnny+Cash
The lowering of the colors was conducted by the post Honor Guard. The youngest member of the Honor Guard was John Coleman’s daughter, Makensie Reed. She is a Junior ROTC cadet at Hernando High School. Mike Ponti played “Taps” on the bugle.
The ceremony ended with a benediction by Chaplain Ryon.