ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – It is with the utmost gratitude and respect that 8 On Your Side is honoring Memorial Day.
The display of gratitude was different for many this year because of coronavirus.
In years past hundreds would gather at Bay Pines National Cemetery for the annual commemoration. That couldn’t happen this year due to social distancing guidelines so they held a virtual ceremony online.
Hundreds tuned in for the first-ever Virtual Bay Pines Memorial Day Celebration at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. You can rewatch the Facebook live celebration on the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Facebook page.
“I would like everyone to join me in saying the pledge of allegiance to the greatest country and flag this world has known,” said one man at the ceremony after the Presentation of the Colors. There was music, a Color Guard, and many solemn words.
“Oh I think this year is a lot different, so many restrictions,” said Veteran Ray Teasdale of Clearwater. He served in the Airforce in 1969.
“Usually we bring roses but today was these,” Teasdale said pointing down to red, white and blue carnations.
He said he had to come in person to honor his parents.
“My dad who served in the army, and my mom is here with him. I just wanted to be here, their spirit is here, they’re here, so I wanted to be here.
Teasdale was disappointed he couldn’t find a vase for their bouquet. “Usually they have a lot of them,” but Teasdale said with so many people coming to honor loved ones he couldn’t find one.
Janice Jones works for Bay Pines and came out on her day off. “To represent the veterans I’m cleaning up a little bit,”
8 On Your Side told Jones that Teasdale, who had already left, wanted a vase for his parent’s flowers. Without hesitation she delivered one.
Today many took the time, in-person and online, to honor those who gave their all.
“It means everything to us, our freedom, our country,” said Jones.
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