For the 45th year in a row, Pembroke Pines City Officials, residents, family and friends visited Donnith H. Fletcher Veterans Memorial Park to honor and remember the men and women who bravely paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Fletcher himself became the first Pines resident killed in action during the Vietnam War when the helicopter he was aboard was shot down in June of 1970.
“We gather to honor the memory of the fallen and to honor those who continue to serve in the United States Military,” Mayor Frank C. Ortis told the crowd of more than 300 on June 3.
The solemn ceremony, during which residents pay their respects and witness the laying of the wreath at the Veterans Monument, was officiated by Chaplain and Captain Vincent Scardino a Firefighter for the City of Pembroke Pines Fire Department.
In an emotional speech Major Everett “Bud” Lacroix of the Unites States Southern Command reflected on the true meaning of Memorial Day. “As Major Lacroix spoke, many people were moved to tears,” said Lana Tropeano of the Pembroke Pines Special Events department. Following the ceremony Major and Mrs. Lacroix spoke with Beulah Fletcher Simons, Donnie’s mother, now in her eighties. “You will have a difficult time believing this, but Donnie would be 67 years old now,” said Mrs. Fletcher Simons. Fletcher was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroic deeds in saving the lives of others.
In addition to featured guest Major Everett “Bud” Lacroix, U.S. Southern Command, the City of Pembroke Pines Memorial Day Ceremony included a welcome by Mayor Frank C. Ortis and Invocation by PPFD Chaplain Captain Vincent Scardino. The Colors, presented by the Pembroke Pines Police and Fire Honor Guard, were followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Boy Scout Troop 460. The National Anthem sung by Natalie Lang was followed by comments from Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank C. Ortis, Vice Mayor/World War II Veteran Carl Shechter, Commissioners Angelo Castillo, Iris A. Siple and Jay Schwartz. Taps were played by Josh Simpo and Randy Rosario from Charles W. Flanagan High School and appreciation for supporting the Annual Pembroke Pines Memorial Day Ceremony was expressed by the Pembroke Pines Special Events Department to The Home Depot for plants and patriotic bunting and VITAS Healthcare for refreshments.