MANATEE — Local veterans are taking the lead in ensuring that members of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost their lives in America’s wars are not forgotten this Memorial Day.
“ I wish that all the people in the area would think about the significance of the day and what the veterans have done for this country,” said Bill Field, commander of American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 in Bradenton.
U.S. Sen. George S. LeMieux will salute America’s war dead as guest speaker at Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 S.R. 72, during a Memorial Day Service at 1 p.m. Sunday. The service will include a wreath laying by the Gold Star Mothers and Fathers.
Last year, the new cemetery had more than 730 veterans interred there, just a few months after opening.
Now, there are more than 2,100, said Wesley Jones, cemetery director.
“We intentionally scheduled the service on Sunday so that we would not conflict with all the services on Monday. We are hoping people will come out and see how this national shrine is growing,” Jones said.
A large turnout is expected at the national cemetery. Jones encouraged attendees to carpool, and bring a lawn chair in case provided seating proves inadequate.
Also Sunday, Lakewood Ranch Main Street will host a Memorial Day event, including a parade at noon.
The Lakewood Ranch event will have live music, beer, barbecue, face painting, fire truck tours and more. Visitors are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to be delivered to U.S. troops by Manatee’s Area Troop Support.
Children are invited to take part in a decorated bike parade. Activities continue until 5 p.m.
On Monday, Manatee County will have its primary Memorial Day service at 9 a.m. at the Veterans Park behind Manatee Memorial Hospital. Color guards and representatives from the county’s veterans groups and organizations will be on hand for the laying of wreaths. Wes Jones, director of Sarasota National Cemetery, will be the featured speaker.
n Southeastern Guide Dogs is hosting an open-house event for veterans from 9 a.m. to noon today. Several visually impaired veterans who are graduates of the Paws for Patriots program will be present with their guide dogs. Southeastern is at 4210 77th St. E., Palmetto. Information: 729-5665.
n American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., Bradenton, will have a service at 9 a.m. Monday for the post’s namesake and other veterans buried at Fogartyville Cemetery, at the corner of 42nd Street NW and Third Avenue NW, Bradenton. Guest speaker will be Lt. Kirby Stewart’s nephew, also named Kirby Stewart. Lt. Stewart was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism during World War I. Sgt. Alvin York was credited with capturing 130 German soldiers during the same battle and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
There will be a luncheon from noon to 3 p.m. at the post, open to the public for $4.50. Legion members will have another service at the post at 3 p.m. Information: 794-3489.
n VFW Post 9226, 3511 12th St. E., Ellenton, is hosting a Memorial Day ceremony at Mansion Memorial Cemetery at 10 a.m. Monday, followed by a cookout at noon and music at 1 p.m. The cookout is free to VFW members. A donation will be collected from guests. Information: (941) 729-8535
n DAV Post 18, 111 63rd Ave. E., will have a covered dish lunch and hot dog and hamburger cookout from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, followed by musical entertainment by Art and Kathy from 2 to 5 p.m. and other activities. The public is invited. Information: (727) 678-1377.
n American Legion Christopher Cobb Memorial Post 312, 1610 67th Ave. E., Oneco, is planning an open house from 1 to 9 p.m. Monday. Information: 758-6616.
n VFW Post 10141, 420 67th St. W., Bradenton, has an open house, starting at noon Monday. Guests are encouraged to bring a covered dish. Information: 794-6394.
n VFW Post 2488, 810 6th St. W., Palmetto, has an open house at noon Monday. Information: 722-9588.
n Marine Corps League DeSoto Detachment 588, 800 17th Ave. W., Bradenton, has an open house at 1 p.m. Monday Jerry Miller will provide live music. Information: 741-USMC (8762).
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.