A day prior to Veterans Day, on November 10, 2014, many gathered on the hallowed ground of the Palms Woodlawn Cemetery to attend a special service and to pay their respects to the many veterans of war interred there.
This yearly tradition, instituted by Councilwoman Judy Waldman, invites the neighboring community to join together and celebrate the common bond of freedom made possible by the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform throughout history.
The ceremony began with an invocation from Pastor Jonathan Juarbe of Life Pointe Church. The Homestead Police Explorers Honor Guard performed Color Guard duties that segued into the Pledge of Allegiance as led by VFW Post 4127 Chaplain Robert McConnachie. At this time, Katelyn Bourke, 2014 Miss South Florida Outstanding Teen, performed a rousing, heart-felt rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” which set the stage for the introductions and speakers to follow.
Councilwoman Waldman then introduced Brigadier General Kurt Sonntag, Special Operations Command South at Homestead Reserve Air Force Base (HARB) to the podium where he shared his insights on military service and heeding the call of duty. In closing, Kenny Ahern of St. Andrews Pipe Band of Miami, filled the air with the strains of “Amazing Grace” as the bagpipes underscored the ceremonial laying of the flags on the graves of the fallen veterans.
“Today was incredibly moving,” said Councilwoman Waldman at services end. “As a daughter of a World War II veteran, an avalanche of emotions just washes over me being among these fallen warriors and remembering their sacrifices. On such a beautiful day as today, it’s important that we remember them and the fundamental freedoms we are blessed with in this country.”