June 1, 2022 — Memorial Day events for area veterans fully restarted this year, with ceremonies at Pacific Sunset Cemetery, Florence Elks Lodge #1858 and the Florence Veteran’s Memorial Park on Monday.
The annual Memorial Day Service at the park on Bay Street was the combined effort of Francis M. Yost American Legion Post #59, Florence Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3232, as well as U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River.
While there were weather concerns after a weekend of storms, the sun broke through during the ceremony.
The solemn service began with an introduction and welcome by American Legion member Mike Nielsen, followed by the presentation of the colors by the VFW Honor Guard.
Chaplain Ken Henderson offered the opening prayer following the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem and a short address by VFW Commander Bruce Andrade.
“We are here to recognize the sacrifices made by all those served, and their families, and especially to those that made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country and never made it home to their families,” Andrade said.
There were a hundred or so people in attendance, primarily veterans and families who were on hand for the focus of the service, the Presentation of Memorial Wreaths.
These wreaths represented individual local veterans who died in service of their country. For the first part of the ceremony, they were displayed in front of the Veteran’s Memorial Wall which lists, on small tiles, the name, rank and service branch of local veterans.
After a dedication, the wreaths were transferred to a vehicle and transported to the dock at the Port of Siuslaw boat ramps. Members of Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River then took the wreaths to the middle of the Siuslaw River and floated them on the water.
On shore, taps was played by Dennis Hamilton and Jim Swant.
“It’s really important that people remember the individuals that lost their lives in defense of our freedom,” Swant said. “It’s not just those that served; it’s their families that are still feeling the loss.”
The organizers extended their “thanks to all who participated in and attended this Memorial Day observance as we honor the memory of those who gave their lives on behalf of a grateful nation.”
Earlier in the day, people placed flags on all the gravestones of veterans at Pacific Sunset Cemetery. In addition, Florence Elks Lodge held a ceremony at 10 a.m. honoring the hundreds of thousands of service members who died while in service.