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Memorial Day 2017

By Deborah Speicher


Every Memorial Day, Florida National Cemetery (Bushnell) holds a ceremony to honor those buried there and their families. The Florida motorcycle communities were out in full force to support this event and several military riding organizations participated. With approximately 350+ bikes, the largest group riding into the cemetery was the Defenders MC (Tampa Bay Chapter). The Defenders MC is a group comprised of active and retired military, law enforcement, emergency services and public safety professionals.

The Defenders’ ride was coordinated by Colonel Ron “Paladin” Rook, USMC (Ret.), who has done so for the past several years. Local HOG and other riding groups were invited to join the Defenders for this ride. Thanks to a police escort and the excellent road captains from the Defenders MC, this 30+ mile ride went off without a hitch.

The ceremony had many poignant speakers, patriotic music and a “missing man” flyover by Ye Mystic Air Krewe. While the actual meaning and traditions of Memorial Day may have been forgotten by some people, those attending the ceremony came out to remember, honor and salute those who had defended our country. Once again, the group “Flags for Fallen Veterans” and a couple of thousand volunteers made sure that several thousand flags were placed on the grave sites.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Master of Ceremonies, Steve Jerve. Steve has been MC’ing for several years running. Kudos to Steve, the Florida National Cemetery Joint Veterans Committee and all those who made this inspirational event happen!

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