A solemn salute to America’s war dead planned in Bradenton for Memorial Day

The history behind Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a great time to enjoy time with friends and family, but the holiday has a deeper meaning. Check out the history behind Memorial Day and what it's really all about.
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Memorial Day is a great time to enjoy time with friends and family, but the holiday has a deeper meaning. Check out the history behind Memorial Day and what it's really all about.

Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember and honor America’s fallen warriors, will be observed at 9 a.m. Monday at Veterans Park, located between Manatee Memorial Hospital and the Bradenton Riverwalk. The public is invited.

Retired Army Col. William Michael Thurmond is scheduled to be the guest speaker.

Thurmond entered the Marines in 1978. After basic training at Paris Island, S.C., he was assigned as an intelligence clerk. He later transferred to the U.S. Army to pursue an aviation career.

In 1983, after five years enlisted service, he attended officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Ga., and was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant. The following year, he attended helicopter flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala., receiving his U.S. Army wings in October 1984.

He deployed to Desert Shield/Storm as a medivac pilot and to Operation Iraqi Freedom as an airfield operations battalion commander. His last wartime assignment was as the senior Army aviation authority for CENTCOM in the Iraq theater. Thurmond retired after 33 years of combined active/reserve duty.

In civilian life, Thurmond has served as an assistant state’s attorney and associate attorney general for the State of Florida. He currently operates a law firm in Bradenton.

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A veteran and member of the Marine Corps League salutes during the annual Memorial Day Service at the Veteran’s Monument. Bradenton Herald file photo

Also on Memorial Day, retired U.S. Navy commander and aviator Brad Smith is scheduled to be the guest speaker at Westminster Manor Retirement Community’s annual Memorial Day observance at 1:30 p.m. at 1700 21st Ave. W.

Smith was a prisoner of war for 7 1/2 years in North Vietnam. The event is open to the public by RSVP at 941-748-4161.

The City of Sarasota, in conjunction with the Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee, will host the annual Memorial Day parade at 10 a.m. Monday in downtown Sarasota.

The parade will start at Main Street and Osprey Avenue and conclude at Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park, located at Main Street and Gulf Stream Avenue, where a ceremony will be held at approximately 11 a.m. The public is invited.

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A crowd stands in respectful silence during the annual Memorial Day Service held by the Manatee Veterans Council at the Veterans Monument in Bradenton. Bradenton Herald file photo

The theme for this Memorial Day is “In Memory of Many, in Honor of All: Honoring Glenn Miller.” Miller was a renowned musician and band leader who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was assigned to lead the U.S. Army Air Force Band. He disappeared on a flight from England to Paris. Neither the airplane nor Miller’s remains have been recovered.

Dennis Spragg, author of “Glenn Miller: Declassified” will be the keynote speaker. Published in 2018, the book focuses on Miller’s lost flight and the impact of Miller’s music on the Greatest Generation.

For more info or to participate in the parade, contact Dan Kennedy, Patriotic Observance Committee Chairman, at 941-812-5406.