Honoring a war hero from Bradenton, Lt. Kirby Stewart, on Memorial Day

May 18, 2014 

Heroes like Lt. Kirby Stewart are remembered everywhere during Memorial Day. However, here in Manatee County, he was our first American national hero in 1918 during the Great War (First World War).

West Bradenton American Legion Post 24, moreover, was established in his name in 1919.

Visit and pause at his grave site on Memorial Day, May 26, at 11 a.m. at Fogartyville Cemetery on the north end of 43rd Street West.

The brief and poignant ceremony, open to the public, will feature an entourage of Post 24 members. The post Honor Guard, in addition, will remember the lieutenant with a 21-gun rifle salute and a chaplain's benediction.

When you visit, be proud. And most of all, be thankful that there was a Kirby Stewart.

He was killed on the morning of Oct. 18 while leading an attack near Chateau Thierry, France, during which he had been twice wounded. For gallantry in action, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

Incidentally, the 1941 motion picture "Sergeant York," starring the late Gary Cooper as Alvin York, showed Cooper as York, capturing 132 German soldiers.

York, years later, stated that it was Lt. Stewart, his battalion commander, who made it possible for him to become a great hero. Together they schemed to outwit the entrenched Germans manning several machine gun nests.

And now, we the living comrades of Kirby Pelot Stewart Post 24, the American Legion of Bradenton, Florida commend his spirit to God who gave it, and our hearts shall always cherish his memory.

George Staudt, American Legion Post 24Bradenton

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