‘Sacrificed All’: Destin pauses to remember fallen warriors

Jessica Coker
95-year-old Harry Murphy and his wife Joan have lived in Destin for more than two decades. Harry spoke during Monday's ceremony, inspiring those who were in attendance. "He joined the Army in 1942, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor," said Joan. She added that she was lucky he came home, because many soldiers didn’t make it home after World War II.

Monday morning dozens of residents gathered at Destin's Memorial Cemetery for the city's Memorial Day ceremony to pay their respects to those who gave their lives to ensure that we would be a free nation.

To see a video from Monday's ceremony, CLICK HERE.

Among the crowd were many retired and current members of the armed forces and their families, including the day's guest speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Kelly Eiland, the commander of the Army Detachment at the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (EOD) on Eglin Air Force Base.

“The ones who lie in this ground and passed on before us sacrificed all for the idea of this nation,” Eiland said. “They are our skin in the game…”

“If we do not remember our fallen warriors what good are we?” he asked.

The Memorial Day services began at the American Legion Post 296 before making its way to the cemetery for the placement of the wreath, dedicating it to the men and women in uniform who gave their lives for their country.

The patriotic day continued with speeches from Destin's mayor Sam Seevers, Lieutenant Colonel Eiland, and Pat Carpenter, the auxiliary president for Post 296, among others. “It is an honor to serve as mayor of this great and beautiful city, but that honor was not bestowed on me by an election. That honor came on the backs of a lot of men and women who served in the military to give us a democratic society where we can live and enjoy life as we do,” Seevers said. “Thank you doesn’t seem like a big word but it’s true.”

The service concluded with the Eglin Air Force Base Color Guard Buglers playing "Taps."

Every year, on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is recognized and members of the armed forces who gave their lives are remembered for their courage, bravery and commitment. The Log asked Emerald Coast residents who they were honoring.

Brittany Fager — Niceville: Brittany Fager told The Log that she was remembering her great-grandpa this year on Memorial Day. "He was in the Army and he served in World War II," said Fager.

Dexter Burke — DeFuniak Springs: Dexter said that he came from a large military family where all of the men in his family, including his father and three uncles were all members of the military. "My dad is the only one who is still alive, but he fought in Korea," said Burke. "Two of his brothers fought in Korea and one — my uncle Herman — fought in World War II."

Ronald Bailey — Destin: "My father was in the United States Air Force," Bailey said. "He fought in World War II."

Grace Eiland — Niceville: Twelve year old Grace told The Log that she is remembering a lot of people this year on Memorial Day, but she's thinking the most about both of her grandfathers. James Silvia was a member of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. "He was a helicopter mechanic," said Grace. "He worked on the helicopters and made sure they were safe for the soldiers."

Samuel Eiland — Niceville: Nine year old Samuel said he too is remembering his grandpas this year on Memorial Day. "My dad's dad was in the Army and served during Vietnam," said Samuel. "He was in the infantry during the Vietnam War; so he was on the frontlines."

Councilmember Cyron Marler — Destin:  During Monday's Memorial Day ceremony in Destin at the Destin Memorial Cemetery, Cyron Marler told The Log that he wanted to thank and remember all of the soldiers; everyone who has served and who will in the future. Marler also sang the National Anthem and Amazing Grace during the ceremony.