A day of Honor and Glory
Col. Henri “Rik” Erkelens
United States Army, Retired
Military Officers Association
President, Ancient City Chapter
Memorial Day Monday May 26, 2014
Should you take the time to look in the downtown area, as so many have, since the 1868 establishment of Memorial Day, you will find memorials to the dead. See the Seminole War dead under the pyramids at the small National Cemetery on Marine Street. Many individual graves are there from several wars.
Located on the East Plaza is an obelisk dedicated to the Civil War dead. Nearby is the recently relocated War Memorial to the servicemen of World War II, Korea and Vietnam who died during those wars. Soon to be added to this monument will be the dead from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Across from this monument at the corner of the American Legion Hamblen House Post 37, are the names of the World War I dead.
On the west side of the plaza can be found the obelisk dedicated to General William Loring “Khedive of Egypt,” and general in both the Union and Confederate armies. Nearby can be found the Rosario defense line monument protecting the city from the west. It is thought that a number of dead are buried there in the plaza from those defenses, and along the other defense lines of the city.
Outside the city are locations – some marked, others unmarked where soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this city for 449 years. Places like Fort Matanzas, Fort Mose, Fort Picolata on the river, Fort Peyton and others. These locations serve to remind us that the price of our freedom is bought dearly with blood and treasure.
Today, we are seriously challenged around the world and our troops still die in Afghanistan. The blood of our heroes never dies as no greater love has man than to lay down his life for us, his comrades, families, freedom, and our way of life. Our most sacred monuments bear their names. We are judged as a people and as a nation, by how we honor our heroes.
Participate in Memorial Day on Monday, May 26, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. at the National Cemetery on Marine Street behind the National Guard Headquarters, presented by the Military Officers Association of America, the Florida National Guard and the Veterans Council.
A massing of colors, field music by pipes and drums and remarks at the cemetery, will be followed by a stirring ceremony by the Pilot Club of St. Augustine, near the relocated World War II monument in the plaza.