Ceremony at Kent Forest Lawn Cemetery brings out the true meaning of Memorial Day

Panama City

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Memorial Day is much more than just a three-day weekend, it’s a time to honor those who gave their lives so we could have our freedom. 

Monday morning, a special ceremony was held at the Kent-Forest Lawn Cemetery to show honor and respect. 

Veterans like Darrell Hertz and community members filled the cemetery to reflect, remember and say thank you the best way they know-how.  Everyone joined in to sing the national anthem and saluted during the wreath-laying ceremony.

“A time to say, you can hardly do it but a time to say thank you,” Hertz said. “Somehow we want to honor you, we want to remember you.”

Hertz was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966. He was 26 years old. He left his wife, his business, and his childhood, but he said he doesn’t regret it a bit.

“Some touched my heart after 30 years of doing nothing and I’m not going to let that get away,” Hertz said. “It’s going to stay in my heart.”

American pride was beaming from the eyes of all who attended, and strength was radiating from those who served. 

The ceremony was led by veterans and sponsored by the Bay County Commission with keynote speaker Commander Keith Foster, of Naval Support Activity Panama City.

“This is just honoring those who have gone before,” Foster said. “I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost comrades in those two conflicts I’ve talked about and it means a lot to me to just remember them for their service.”

Foster fought in operations like Desert Storm and Rocky Freedom. He said it wasn’t until serving his country that he really learned what it means to wear red white and blue.

“I’ve put my life on the line for this country when I hear the pledge of allegiance when I say the pledge of allegiance,” Foster said. “It has that meaning now that I understand how important this country is for the freedom of the world.”

The service was about honor and showing we care.  In the best way, we could thank the fallen soldiers for the land of the free, fought for by the brave. 

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