Honoring the Fallen

Dick Cuchetti of AmVets Post 2 in Edgewater plays Taps as Jan Morell, right, salutes with others during the Memorial Day Remember & Honor Ceremony at the Brannon Center last year.

Some things should never be forgotten.

Memorial Day on May 25 may seem different from celebrations in past years, if there is any celebration at all. But the essence and spirit of Memorial Day is alive and well.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for remembering, honoring, and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“We won’t open the American Legion until Phase Two (of the gradual reopening of Florida) and that has yet to be determined,” said Steve Taylor, commander of American Legion Post 361 in South Daytona. “I’m sure there will be probably other memorials, maybe some of them virtually, that we can attend. We’ll be closed more than likely.”

One tradition shouldn't change, Commander Taylor said, though. “At 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, take a minute of silence to remember the men and women who served and died in the pursuit of freedom and peace.”

Memorial Day events are being canceled throughout the county and country, such as the Ponce Inlet Veteran's Memorial Day service.

Also, a City of DeLand news release states, “In an effort to prevent further spread of Covid-19 and adhere to guidelines as part of the state’s Phase 1 reopening, all Memorial Day events in DeLand have been canceled.

Veterans’ organizations have agreed to cancel an annual event at Bill Dreggors Park, especially since so many veterans of part of the at-risk population.

“We look forward to celebrating our veterans later this year on Veterans Day,” Mayor Bob Apgar said. “In lieu of the annual event on Memorial Day, we ask all of our residents to take a moment to recognize those who lost their lives defending our freedom.”

Connor Curtis, a DeLand firefighter and a veteran of the U.S. Army Rangers veteran who lives in New Smyrna Beach, urges everyone to stay with their loved ones.

But, Mr. Curtis said, “Still remember there is a war going on. There’s still men and women of all ages taking tanks out, doing stuff. I know our fire department will be doing something along with my brother’s (for Memorial Day). Our departments are awesome and super patriotic. I promise you this, our department will still be kicking, we’ll still be grilling out. We’ll still be cherishing it (Memorial Day). My mom and my dad (who live in Texas) still to this day fly that flag. They will forever, no matter what, whether we’re alive or not. Be with your family. Cherish that. That’s what’s important”.

Sibling Dylan Curtis also lives in New Smyrna Beach, where he is a firefighter, and is a U.S. Army Rangers veteran.

“I hope a lot of people will cherish that time with family, which people will continue to do whether Covid is happening or not,” Dylan Curtis said. “I think that people tend to forget that Memorial Day is a little bit more, especially to veterans, than a three-day weekend. The beaches I’m sure will be crowded. A lot of people won’t think for a half a second about what’s going on. I wish that wasn’t always the case. We’ll be at the station doing something traditional. As for others, I hope they get the time in with their family and take a minute to remember why we have a three-day weekend.”

He will start sending out group texts at 7 a.m. Memorial Day to families who have lost loved ones in wars. He said doing that will never change for him.

Robert James “RJ” Casey is a New Smyrna Beach resident who has a lifetime of military service and is still active today as a U.S. Air Force reservist, serving as a Combat Rescue Officer at Patrick Air Force Base in the 920th Rescue Wing, 308th Rescue Squadron. “I go to a couple of funerals a year because of what’s going on overseas and different parts of the planet, so that we can enjoy these freedoms and enjoy our family,” CRO Casey said. “It’s a super important weekend. (It should) never be forgotten no matter what’s going on.”

He will be doing a parachute jump with his reserve team on Memorial Day.

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