Multiple events are taking place this week and next to commemorate Memorial Day, a day for remembering the people who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The city of Ocoee is honoring its fallen soldiers at its annual ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, May 25, at Bill Breeze Park, 125 N. Lakeshore Drive, Ocoee.
The keynote speaker is Cadet Capt. Damarius Maxwell, 17, the youngest person to deliver remarks at a city event. Maxwell is a third-year cadet in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, is an avid drone pilot and is a member of the dual-enrollment program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
His goal is to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force.
The ceremony is open to the public. It will include Chloe Rogenus, a senior at Ocoee High School, singing the national anthem and the Ocoee Police Department Honor Guard presenting the flag. Mayor Rusty Johnson and the city commissioners will lead a processional to the Ocoee Memorial Wall, where a wreath will be set in place.
The Memorial Wall is inscribed with the names of Ocoee residents who gave their lives for freedom. The elected officials will recite the names of each fallen soldier.
The city of Winter Garden’s annual Memorial Day Service is at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 28, at Veterans Memorial Park, 420 S. Park Ave., Winter Garden. Former City Commissioner Theo Graham is the master of ceremonies for the 26th year, and Mayor John Rees is participating, as well.
The guest speaker is Robert E. Cole Jr., a Winter Garden resident and retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force.
Cole joined the military in 1959 and graduated basic training as an automatic tracking radar operator. After graduating from Advanced Missile Guidance at the former Orlando Air Force Base, he served several assignments around the United States and was stationed in Korea and, later, Vietnam.
Cole retired in 1998 and became an electronic technician at Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin).
The program also will include patriotic music by Geoff Bashioum, a color guard made up of members of the Winter Garden police and fire departments, a roll call of the war dead and a wreath-placing ceremony.
WOODLAWN MEMORIAL PARK
The 68th Annual Memorial Day Celebration will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, May 28, in front of the mosaic at Woodlawn Memorial Park, 400 Woodlawn Cemetery Road, Gotha.
The event will include veteran organizations, scouts and the tolling of the replica Liberty Bell in memory of those who died in war. American flags will be available for guests wanting to decorate a grave for Memorial Day.
The Orlando Concert Band will present “A Memorial Day Remembrance” concert to honor those individuals who gave their lives in service to this country.
Residents are invited to join Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Veterans Advisory Council in honoring the members who served in the Armed Forces in Orange County and ultimately sacrificed their lives while serving their country.
The annual Orange County War Memorial and Wreath Presentation commemoration ceremony will take place at the Orange County Courthouse, 425 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, at 10 a.m. Monday, May 28. The event is free and open to the public.
Mayor Jacobs will deliver remarks and present a resolution during the commemoration event. The advisory council will then accompany her in a wreath-laying ceremony, which will be followed by the playing of taps to commemorate the fallen heroes.
Allie L. Braswell Jr., civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, will be the guest speaker.
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.