The St. Augustine Memorial Day Observance is held every year at St. Augustine National Cemetery located on Marine Street. This year, Historic City News readers will hear from Brigadier General (Ret.) Valeria Gonzalez-Kerr, who is the keynote speaker.
The observance begins with music accompanying the march in of massed flags from local veteran’s organizations. Veterans residing in St. Johns County who have died in the past year will be recognized as part of the “Fallen Comrade Tribute.”
Gonzalez-Kerr began her military career in 1984 and became the first Hispanic female to reach the rank of Brigadier General in the Florida National Guard. She will share her perspective as a veteran with command and staff service, tours of duty in Germany and Iraq and subsequent work with Jacksonville University as Director of Strategic Initiatives.
The observance is organized by the Ancient City Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America in conjunction with the Veterans Council of St. Johns County and the National Cemetery Administration.
Originally known as “Decoration Day” it was originally dedicated to those who perished in the Civil War. Following World War I, it was expanded to honor those who died in any war or during military service. It became an official federal holiday in 1971. Memorial Day’s true purpose is to remember and honor those who died in active military service. There are separate holidays that honor the military in other ways, such as Veterans Day, which recognizes all veterans, and Armed Forces Day, which recognizes those currently serving in the U.S. military.
If you plan to attend the commemoration today, the ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the St. Augustine National Cemetery located at 104 Marine Street. Hours for the St. Augustine National Cemetery are extended to 7:00 p.m. on Memorial Day. Normal hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.