This year's speaker highlighted stories of military medics, nurses and doctors who lost their life while serving.
This Memorial Day, as people honor the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives in service, we should also pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives serving others, said Michael Raymond, American Legion Department of Florida third vice commander, during his address in the city's virtual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 25.
Raymond began his speech by stating that every crisis has new heroes. During 9/11 it was the first responders. Currently, the heroes of the coronavirus crisis are health care professionals.
“These heroes have much in common with the people that we honor today: America’s fallen veterans," Raymond said. "They are men and women who have sacrificed their own lives so that others could live.”
Raymond continued on to say that the celebration of health care workers makes him think about the nurses, doctors and military medics who died while treating soldiers on the battlefield. He told the story of Jack Williams, a 20-year-old Navy pharmacist’s mate who died in Iwo Jima in 1945 by a sniper's bullet while treating Marine soldiers. Prior to his death, Williams had protected an injured soldier with his body while treating his wounds; he was shot four times, but he dressed his own wounds and plowed ahead to treat another soldier.
Raymond also told the story of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Sharon Lane, who worked as a nurse during the Vietnam War and treated Vietnamese soldiers. She died at 25-years-old after a rocket hit her hospital.
Raymond additionally wanted to commemorate the many service members who succumbed to disease, including the 60 soldiers of the African American 24th Infantry Regiment who, during the Spanish-American War, volunteered to serve as nurses. A total of 36 would later die from yellow fever or malaria. He mentioned the 16,000 U.S. soldiers killed by the flu in France during World War I and the other 30,000 who lost their lives to the disease while in stateside camps.
“They were all on a mission to serve," Raymond said. "Even when the enemy is an invisible virus or a microscopic germ, the sacrifices made are just as meaningful.”
Though held virtually through Zoom, Mayor Bill Partington said ceremonies like this one were held all over the country in honor of fallen service members. Partington took the opportunity to recognize Paul McCauley, an Ormond Air Force veteran who lost his sight during his time in service. McCauley is a past chairman of the Ormond Beach Memorial Day Remembrance Committee and has served in the city's quality of life board, the former environmental advisory board and the development review board. He was also the commander of the Cassen Young Memorial Post 267 of the American Legion.
Partington said Memorial Day holds a different meaning to many people, but the "true meaning" of the holiday shouldn't be forgotten. He thanked those who have served, and family members who lost a loved one in service.
“Your sacrifice has been great, and the city of Ormond Beach honors you and appreciates you more than words can express," he said.