By Michael Isam
St. Augustine, Fla, (May 27, 2014) – Hundreds flocked to the Plaza de la Constitution on Memorial Day with many asking “Where is the memorial?”
The 68-year-old memorial was hidden from view; again. Not by the FPL power boxes, but by the sea of humanity come to witness its rededication and pay their respects to veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The memorial had been decommissioned April 28, 2014 to prepare it for the move approximately 30 feet west from its original location established in 1946.
With the unmistakable sound of pipes, drums, the Ancient City Pipe and Drum Corp made its way across King Street and onto the grounds of the plaza. A cadre of color guards followed closely behind along with many people who walked the distance from the Memorial Day ceremony at the St. Augustine National Cemetery.
Capt. Charles Stratman, USN (retired.) rang 4 bells signaling the commencement of the ceremony followed by a welcoming by Kay Burtin, President of the Pilot Club of St. Augustine. The rich voice of Weyman Hudgins rang out the Star Spangle Banner with the audience singing along. Rene Naughton, past Florida district governor and district chaplain, provided the invocation.
Additional speakers at the event were St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles, State Rep. Doc Renuart, and Col. Rik Erkelens, USA, retired, President of the Military Officers Association of America, John Valdez, the “anonymous” contractor who stepped forward and offered his services to move the memorial, and St. Augustine native son Bobby Jones credited with setting the move of the monument in motion.
Additional plaques bearing witness to the service and sacrifice of our local men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan will be added in the future.
The ceremony was concluded with a solitary ring of the ship bell followed by “Taps” offered by John Donlon, St. Johns County Sheriffs Department, retired.