Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bay Pines Memorial Day ceremony draws crowd, gratitude


Looking around at the hundreds of veterans and their families seated at the Memorial Day ceremony at Bay Pines National Cemetery, Kathy Gilbert of Seminole swelled with pride and gratitude.

"I get emotional on this day because I think of all the other people who have lost loved ones, and I'm just really, really appreciative of the sacrifice they make," Gilbert said Monday with tears in her eyes.

Her husband and father served in the military, and her close friend recently lost a son in combat.

Pinellas County's largest Memorial Day event, which lasted about two hours, drew more than 2,000 people.

Over the weekend, Boy and Girl Scouts placed American flags on each of the cemetery's nearly 32,000 graves.

The presentation included ceremonial drills conducted by local Junior ROTC teams, a musical performance and several speakers, including U.S. Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young.

In his remarks, Young emphasized that American soldiers fight to protect the Constitution — an element that he believes is often ignored in patriotic ceremonies.

"If we allow our Constitution to be ignored, this country's in trouble," Young said. "Then what our soldiers fought for in the Constitution might have been in vain, and we can't allow that to happen."

Memorial Day should remind people how important it is to reduce violence around the globe, said Robin Saenger of Tarpon Springs, whose father-in-law — a World War II veteran — is a patient at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

"You look around and see all the people of all ages who are in wheelchairs or missing limbs, and you see faces of their loved ones and kids — it's tragic," Saenger said. "It's the highest service, but it's still very tragic."

Everyone should thank and give back to veterans through volunteer work, said Bay Pines hospice volunteer Loy Ann Stottler, whose husband and two sons are buried at Bay Pines.

"If it wasn't for what all of them have given and their families, we wouldn't have a right to stand here," she said, gesturing toward the graveyard and its sea of flags.

Contact Lauren Carroll at or (727) 893-8913. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenFCarroll.

Bay Pines Memorial Day ceremony draws crowd, gratitude 05/27/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle