Mannix About Manatee: Memorial Day meaning ingrained in our town's DNA

May 26, 2013 

Hundreds of small American flags align both sides of Ninth Street East as you drive by Tropicana.

A granite marker with a metal name plate catches your attention in a quiet church garden.

You dust off the desk photo of a longtime friend who gave his life on 9/11.

Memorial Day is here.

Not long ago there was a prevailing sentiment that the real meaning of this solemn holiday had been lost among all the other events that traditionally take place this weekend.

Big barbecues.

Bonanza sales.

Beachgoers up north celebrating the unofficial start of summer.

Perhaps Memorial Day's meaning is missing for some people. It's in our community's DNA.

Sure, we will celebrate this weekend with our family, friends and neighbors, but we will also take time to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

Those reminders are evident not just on Memorial Day, but 365 days a year.

There's the obelisk in Palmetto, a veterans monument that includes the names of seven who fell in World War I.

• Percy F. Cox.

• Harry Dango.

• George W. Frost.

• A. Lesley Harllee.

• Kenneth Hubbard.

• Percy H. Smith.

• Charles A. Sparkman.

The memorial is also embossed with these engraved words that always make one pause and reflect:

"Call Out Our Name As The Years Go By. Remember Us And We Shall Never Die."

Though there isn't yet such a public pillar graced with the names of our honored dead from America's recent conflicts, remembrances abound around our town. To wit:

The handsome portrait of Paul Mardis Jr. in Palmetto High's front office. The Green Beret died July 15, 2004, succumbing to injuries from a bomb blast near Mosul, Iraq.

The memorial marker at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs for Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Dougherty, a Bayshore High graduate, who died in combat July 6, 2004 near Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

The Braden River High game ball signed by Army Spc. 4 Patrick Lay, a former Pirate tight end, who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on Aug. 11, 2011.

If a monument is ever erected, their names would be joined by these fallen heroes from Bradenton during the second Iraq war:

• Christopher Cobb.

• John L. Hartman Jr.

• Fred Miller.

• Christopher North.

• Justin Schmidt.

Until then, we remember them in our hearts on Memorial Day.

And every day.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter:note>

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