Memorial Day celebrations set for Okaloosa County
FORT WALTON BEACH — Organizations across Northwest Florida are observing Memorial Day in ways that accommodate social distancing requirements.
The holiday honors the memory of American men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military. According to the History.com website, the holiday had its beginnings in the late 1860s after the American Civil War, and was first known as Decoration Day.
Here are some of the ways this national holiday is being commemorated locally in these unusual times.
MEMORIAL DAY CELEBRATIONS
•HarborWalk Village, at 10 Harbor Blvd, Destin, will have a Memorial Day concert May 23 and 24. Flash Flood performs from 7-9 p.m. May 23, with Jessie Ritter at 7 p.m. May 24 followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. and firespinning on the main stage.
•Fort Walton Beach’s Memorial Day ceremony will be a virtual one. It starts 9 a.m. May 25 at Beal Memorial Cemetery, with some changes. The event will be streamed live on the City of Fort Walton Beach Public Info Facebook page. This will allow the event to be held with proper social distancing practices. Col. John Sannes, US Army, Commander 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), will be the guest speaker, along with presentations by the city of Fort Walton Beach Police Honor Guard, local pastoral support and James Bass of Carriage Services. They will honor over 1,600 veterans laid to rest at the cemetery and read the names of local veterans who have passed away since Memorial Day last year.
•Crestview’s Memorial Day celebration will be broadcasted virtually on Facebook by Crestview Community Television. The ceremony starts 10 a.m. May 25 at the Veteran’s Memorial Wall in front of the courthouse on Main Street. People may attend if they wish, but no seating will be provided due to the coronavirus, and social distancing will be observed for those who do attend. The ceremony will include a proclamation by the mayor, prayer by a member, the featured speaker, and a reading of the wreath presenters.
•The Destin American Legion will have a short ceremony at 11 a.m. May 25 at the Destin Memorial Cemetery, 111 Stahlman Drive, Destin.
Memorial Day became associated with the poppy during World War I. The flower was a common sight in those battlefields, as related in the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian doctor John McCrae.
Veterans groups, including the American Legion Post 75 in Crestview, make versions of Flanders Fields for display in the days surrounding Memorial Day in recognition of local military members who died.
For a quiet way to commemorate this national holiday, you can drive by the post and see their Flanders Field memorial at 898 E. James Lee Blvd., Crestview. The post usually keeps the display up until the weekend after Memorial Day.