OKEECHOBEE — Several local veteran groups met this week to discuss the future of Memorial Day ceremonies in Veterans’ Park. In the past, this ceremony was presented by the American legion and was well-attended by the public. When Covid-19 showed up, the ceremonies were cancelled and since then have been hit or miss.
According to veteran Gregg Maynard, the meeting was attended by Gary Bailey, incoming Big Lake VFW Post commander; Randy Kern of the Eagle Riders; Jim Benoit of the Am Vets; Charlie Norris, district VFW commander; Kevin Stripling, District VFW vice commander and John Denny of the Buckhead Ridge VFW.
“Last year, the Memorial Day ceremony got dropped,” said Maynard. “Historically, it was always done by the American Legion, but for some reason, it wasn’t done last year. We called this meeting to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The group decided to hold the ceremony on the Saturday before Memorial Day. There will be a speaker, and a cookout. Veterans will eat free, and others will pay $12 for a BBQ lunch prepared by Sheriff Noel Stephen.
“The organizations were happy to be involved,” said Maynard. “They jumped at the chance to show they are not just beer and bingo as many seem to think.”
Many of these organizations support Maynard when he builds ramps or remodels a bathroom or any other service for local veterans.
The guns are almost finished and are making their way back into the park. Maynard said he hopes to have them all there by Memorial Day. The First Baptist youth group will be working with other volunteers to clean up the memorial wall in the park.
Plans are being finalized for the ceremony, but they think they will hold the ceremony at 11 a.m. with lunch to follow.