MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – From the nation’s capital to South Florida, people across the United States stopped Monday to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
On Miami Beach, the American Legion Miami Beach Post 85 and VFW Miami Beach Post 3559 honored the memory of the men and woman who fought and died for freedom with a wreath-laying ceremony and a moving 21-gun salute.
The ceremony, which took place at the War Memorial Cenotaph in front of the Miami Beach Police Headquarters, was attended by veterans stretching back to World War II.
Rabbi Mayor Abramawitz, one of a dwindling generation of World War II veterans was joined by fellow serviceman. A chaplain overseas, he says he wrote many letters informing families their sons wouldn’t be coming home.
“To write that first letter came easy because I loved the boy and I knew the parents of him. It was also very painful for me too.” he said. Abramawitz would go on to help Jews re-establish themselves around the world after the war.
One of the veterans who attended the service is Cory Gray, who served in Iraq. Gray and I went to college together 15 years ago. I didn’t recognize him at first as he looked different. Gray, back now in South Florida, explained he was taking time to remember friends who didn’t make it back from Iraq.
“There are a couple of friends, their names are inscribed in my heart here that I think about while I’m here. And I also think about their families. Some of them were young men. And I pray for them to have the strength to continue to move on with their lives after such a huge sacrifice,” Gray said.
Part of the issues our Armed Services and veterans are increasingly dealing with is depression and suicide.
Monday the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs handed out wrist bands with a toll-free number for vets to call for crisis counseling.
One vet explained he wears it every day, not because he needs it, but in case he meets someone who does.
The number on the band, 1-800-273-3255, when called offers counseling any time of day or night, year round.
And while just a few blocks away – people party and veterans told us they are ok with it.
“If it wasn’t for your service to your country, they wouldn’t have those liberties today.” Robert Marteens, a Vietnam veteran said.
There was a national moment of silence Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. in memory of all those who died for our country. In Pembroke Pines, there was a service honoring U.S. veterans at Donnith H. Fletcher Park. There was a presentation of colors, guest speakers and a wreath-laying ceremony as well.
At Miami’s Woodlawn Park Cemetery, the Consul General of France joined the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in awarding the insignias of “Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honor” to three U.S. veterans who fought alongside France during World War II.
The French Legion of Honor award is the highest distinction that can be awarded to a French citizen as well as a foreigner.
Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, President Barack Obama honored veterans by positioning a commemorative wreath during a ceremony on Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on May 27, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.
Earlier Monday morning, the president and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a White House breakfast for “Gold Star” families – those who have had a family member killed in military service.
The ceremonies held around the country are to honor military service members killed in the line of duty.