Remembering the sacrifice

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Taps are played by the Florida National Guard at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. (RonLin Photography)

Throughout the world, and history, there have been those who served honorably for the cause of freedom so our nations may have peace from conflict, enabling them to pursue and enjoy the rights bestowed upon each individual.  Let’s not let go of these sacrifices.

Although each nation does not have a perfect union I am thankful for the rights we hold dear today – and the sacrifice of those who helped make it possible to have a free society, allowing us to dream and follow those dreams freely.

Memorial Day is an annual, formal holiday in the United States to honor military service members who died in the line of duty.  The date changes each year but is held on the last Monday in May.  It was originally called Decoration Day, as the holiday was centered on decorating the graves of those who had fallen in the U.S. Civil War.   http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/memorial-day/

I want to highlight the U.S. National Cemetery in St. Augustine, Fla. as the 2018 emphasis to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

St. Augustine National Cemetery - VA Admin photo
The U.S. National Cemetery in St. Augustine, Fla. is managed by Veterans Affairs. (VA Photo)    https:/cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/staugustine

St. Augustine National Cemetery traces its history back to a Spanish monastery founded during the 18th century.  Today, the cemetery perhaps is best known as the home of the Dade Pyramids, believed to be the oldest memorial in any national cemetery.  The cemetery also features a unique Spanish Colonial-style superintendent’s lodge designed to complement the historic architecture found throughout St. Augustine.  https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/florida/st_augustine_national_cemetery.html

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the city of St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the United States.  According to the National Park Service the land upon which the national cemetery sits was originally part of a Franciscan monastery that operated until the English took possession of Florida in 1763, converting the monastery into the St. Francis Barracks.  The Spanish regained possession of the territory in 1783 and held it until 1821, when Florida became a part of the United States; all the while, the site remained a military installation.

A portion of the yard at the St. Francis Barracks was set aside for use as a post cemetery, with the first burials occurring in 1828.  Most of the early burials in the cemetery were casualties of the Indian Wars, a series of conflicts waged between 1817 and 1858 as the United States forcibly removed Native Americans, notably the Seminole tribes, to lands west of the Mississippi.  Later burials include those of Union soldiers. Although Florida seceded in 1861, Union troops captured St. Augustine in March 1862 when the gunboat Wabash entered the harbor.

In 1881, the post cemetery was elevated in status to a national cemetery, as stated by the National Park Service.  “St. Augustine National Cemetery covers a 1.3-acre rectangular site at the edge of what was once the walled Spanish city.  The northern half of the grounds are enclosed by locally quarried Coquina stone walls, while a wrought-iron fence surrounds the southern half.  Four pedestrian gates, two each along the eastern and western walls, allow access to the cemetery.  Walkways connect each gate to its counterpart along the opposite wall, and a central avenue serves as the physical and symbolic link between the flagpole at the north end of the grounds and the Dade Pyramids at the south end.  Also at the north end of the cemetery is the superintendent’s lodge.  Built in 1938 out of Coquina stone, the lodge is in the Spanish Colonial style, like much of St. Augustine.  The nearby rostrum is also composed of Coquina stone.”

The cemetery is a solemn and appropriate location to recognize those who championed freedom through the ages.  The public gathers annually for the Memorial Day ceremony.

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Representatives from various veteran and military organizations parade their colors to begin the annual ceremony at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine. (RonLin Photography)
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World War II veterans who remain continue to show their respect for those who served and died.  (RonLin Photography)
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Honors are presented to remind those present that we will not forget.  Providing the honors is typically done by the Florida National Guard, Florida Department of Military Affairs, local law enforcement and veteran organizations. (RonLin Photography)
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We salute those who died serving on behalf of a grateful nation to help secure and maintain the freedoms we hold dear today.  (RonLin Photography)

Let us take time around the world to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nations, including their families.  Where would we be today had it not been for them.

With Love, Ron

#memorialday2018

St. Augustine National Cemetery is located at 104 Marine St. in St. Augustine, FL.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from 8:00am to 5:00pm; on Memorial Day the cemetery is open for visitation from 8:00am to 7:00pm.  No cemetery staff is present onsite.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 904-766-5222, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Taste of Florida Christmas

Merry Christmas from north Florida.

As you travel around north Florida during the Christmas celebration you’ll experience warm weather.  That’s great for those traveling from afar, and of course locals enjoy it too.

This week was filled with joy, excitement, hustle and bustle, as well as travel congestion – but still the sense of being alive and well, and being blessed in Florida.

Beach goers just north of St. Augustine experienced the joy of the season 23324013753_d57603bfa9_kin more ways than one.   A few splashed around in the rolling waves as surfers looked for their perfect set.  We came upon a interested snowman too.  Instead of a snowman how about a sandman?  Or, Sandperson.

In St. Augustine, the sights and sounds were elevated as trolleys and trains moved people along the routes as they sang their favorite seasonal songs.  The lights and atmosphere was – and is festive.

While it’s a wonderful time of year to experience life, adventure, sights and sounds, what lasting memories will you have?  Do we really believe this is a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or whatever emphasis we want to place on it?

We do know that the sounds of laughter, excitement and joy, along with peace do not necessarily last forever here on Earth – although one came to provide Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men (and Women too).

Yes, let’s enjoy the seasons.  Let’s enjoy Peace on Earth as we strive toward it.  Let’s also think of eternal joy and peace as well.  I leave with you some excellent words of wisdom this Christmas season from Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living devotion for December 25 – “A Christmas Masterpiece.”

“Before time began, God had in His mind’s eye a masterpiece – a beautiful picture of grace that His beloved Son, the second person of the Trinity, would illustrate with His life.

“Even before the breathtaking splendor of creation, God sketched out His plan for His perfect fellowship with humanity.  But not long after He had splashed color on the landscape, the deep, dark shadows of man’s rebellious choice to live independently of His grace obscured the beauty of God’s work.  Coal black, pitch darkness enveloped the scene, and all creation hung in suspense of what God would do.”

Do you know what God did?  You can read the rest of the message at www.insight.org.  You can also read from the scriptures in John 3:16.

I believe this don’t you?

This the the message of hope that we all seek.  The Savior slipped into our world to fulfill God’s plan.  We can celebrate Christmas throughout the year – enjoying God’s greatest present with Love.  Live life fully each day with joy, happiness, peace and knowing where we are going.  God made a way for us.

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