Memorial Day observance set for Veterans Tribute Tower at Beal Memorial Cemetery on May 31

Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — With the Memorial Day holiday approaching, the Veterans Tribute Tower Committee is asking individuals and organizations to provide them with a list of veterans who have died since last year's holiday to ensure they are properly remembered at this year's observance at Beal Memorial Cemetery.

The information can be emailed before the May 31 ceremony to magnoliagrillfwb@gmail.com, or faxed to 850-302-0316.

This year's ceremony, a major local observance of the holiday that honors men and women who died while in military service of their country, particularly in combat or as a result of battle wounds, is set to begin at 9 a.m. May 31 at the Veterans Tribute Tower at the cemetery at 316 Beal Parkway N.W. in Fort Walton Beach.

A look back: Memorial Day 2019

Remembering those who served:Wreaths laid at veterans' graves in Beal Memorial Cemetery

Fort Walton Beach High School Air Force  Junior ROTC cadets place flags at the graves of the more than 1,600 veterans interred at Beal Memorial Cemetery before the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony. This year's observance is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 31.

Two days before this year's ceremony, in a somber annual event that prepares the grounds for Memorial Day, cadets from the Air Force Junior ROTC unit at Fort Walton Beach High School will place flowers on the graves of the more than 1,600 U.S. military veterans laid to rest at Beal Memorial. The cadets also will be on hand to assist with the May 31 ceremony.

In addition to honoring the nation's troops who died in war and the local veterans who have passed away in the past year, this year's Memorial Day observance will include recognition of those held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, and also will honor Gold Star families, the immediate family members of veterans who died while serving in a time of conflict.

The guest speaker will be Col. John W. Sannes, commander of the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base.

American flags mark the resting places of the more than 1,600 veterans laid to rest at Beal Memorial Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach for a Memorial Day observance IN 2019. This year's observance is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. May 31 at the cemetery, with Col. John Sannes, commander of the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), scheduled to speak.

Also participating in the program will be Marine Corps veteran David Goetsch, emeritus vice-president and professor at Northwest Florida State College; the Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of Gregg Chapel AME Church; Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame member David Rose; state Rep. Patt Maney, a retired Army Reserve brigadier general and retired local judge; Air Force Brig. Gen Scott Cain, commander of Eglin Air Force Base and its host unit, the 96th Test Wing; and Air Force Col. Jocelyn Schermerhorn, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, the host unit at Hurlburt Field. 

Attendees are invited to bring a small bouquet of flowers to be placed in the Community Wreath honoring deceased veterans while honors are being rendered to them during the program.

For those unable to attend in person, the event will be available live online via streaming video at the city of Fort Walton Beach website, https://www.fwb.org/, and on the Facebook page of the Beal Memorial Veterans Tribute Tower FWB at https://www.facebook.com/fwbtributetower.

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at American Legion Post 235 at 105 Hollywood Blvd. N.W.