Fred Daniels has long understood the importance of Memorial Day, from his youthful days to those as an adult.
As a member of American Legion Post 225, where he’s served in a number of roles, he has long been tasked with coordinating the Post’s annual Memorial Day program.
But with the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst in 100 years, there will be no Memorial Day program Monday at Hills of Rest Cemetery on South U.S. 41 across from Ferris Farms.
“It’s difficult for me to accept,” said Daniels, the Post’s adjutant and service officer, noting he’s been in charge of the program for the past 18 years. “We’re still going to honor them, but to do anything like we’ve done in the past is impossible.”
The scaled-down ceremony will include eight to 10 members of the Post; Daniels will say a few words and they will place a wreath in front of the memorial honoring the Post’s namesake — Herbert Surber as well as lower the flag to half-mast before he returns at noon to raise it. Daniels was able to partner with Boy Scout Troop No. 457 in Inverness, whose members will plant American flags at the gravesites of those who served in the U.S. armed forces.
“We have to do something,” Daniels stressed, noting the importance of remembering those who killed in action or those missing in action. “I understand the current situation; but it’s disappointing. I’m praying to God next year we can do it, do it big. We’re not honoring all veterans, we’re honoring the KIAs, the MIAs, that’s why it’s so important.”
Not only has the Herbert Surber American Legion Post 225’s Memorial Day ceremony been canceled due to the pandemic, so has the Memorial Day ceremony co-hosted by Beverly Hills members of the American Legion Post 237 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10087, along with Fero Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home’s, at Fero Memorial Gardens in Beverly Hills.
Staff members placed flags Friday at the site of graves, with the task completed Sunday with the assistance of local Boy Scouts.
VITAS Healthcare has a private ceremony scheduled Monday, called "Coffee with Comrades” for its veteran residents of Avanté skilled nursing facility in Inverness on Memorial Day.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the outdoor courtyard, the ceremony will open with prayer by VITAS volunteer veteran Tom Green, followed by the national anthem sung by Georgette Bass,Avanté life enrichment coordinator, and raising of the American flag.
Phil Pasay, another veteran volunteer, will deliver a brief speech to recognize the veterans in attendance across the lawn and gazebo. Coffee, cupcakes, and Cracker Jacks will be provided for residents only inside the building in an effort to maintain safe isolating measures.
Royal Dalton assisted living will host a Memorial Day Friends & Family BBQ Parade at 11 a.m. Tuesday at 5445 W Oak Park Blvd, Homosassa.
“We had such a great time during our last friends and family parade, we decided to do another one … this time BBQ style,” the company said in a news release. “You will be able to drive by, blow kisses, wave and also receive a to-go hot dog lunch.”
To RSVP, call 352-765-3259.