Today we salute our veterans and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. There are several important ceremonies Monday morning, including Cape Coral’s first Memorial Day Parade that will close down Cape Coral Parkway in a few hours.
The parade will start at noon after the singing of the national anthem. Then, you can watch as some of our very own local veterans make it down Cape Coral Parkway. It is something Southwest Florida military Museum said they have been planning for months.
“We have some incredible freedoms in this country and they were not free,” said Missi Lastra, who works at the Southwest Florida Military Museum. “They came at a hard price.”
Two local veterans will lead the inaugural parade. They are Ruth Blake, who was in the Navy for more than 20 years, and Poncho Mauricio, a 101-year-old World War II veteran who survived the Bataan Death March.
“This will be my first time being a grand marshal,” Mauricio said, “and it’s really a big honor for me.”
More than 50 local organizations are taking part, including local bands, law enforcement agencies and the fire department.
Cape Coral Parkway will close along the route at 10 a.m. and will not open back up until about 1 p.m. After the parade, there will be free activities at the museum.
“This is a time for the community to come together and remember and honor those who sacrificed everything,” Lastra said.
During the parade, they will honor Cape Coral’s Roy Leo – a WWII Navy pilot who passed away last year at the age of 98. He spent a lot of time at the military museum and now his memory lives on there.
“We have a picture of Roy in the middle,” said Jim Zbick, who works at the Southwest Florida Military Museum, “and also all of his campaign ribbons underneath and his medals on each side of that.”
Regardless of your plans, a local veteran tells us he hopes you take a little bit of time to remember what Memorial Day is truly all about.
“It’s always been summer starts, ‘let’s go to the beach,’” said Nicholas Napolitano, a Korean War veteran. “But sometime during that day, they should stop and realize why they have what they have today.”