A Memorial Day ceremony was held at Veteran's Park.
On a windy morning at the Veteran's Park in Port Orange, an empty chair sat next to a table where several items, such as a rose and pinch of salt, symbolized the loss of men and women who have served their country.
But the chair, table and items were only one part of the ceremony that was held on Monday, May 28, for the city's Memorial Day service where officials, first responders, veterans and other residents had come together. Throughout the morning, there were speeches about the day's meaning and the connections to those people who are and were a part of the U.S. military.
For some, like Port Orange VFW commander Joe Rosa, the ceremony hit much closer to home. Rosa, a Vietnam veteran, has seen firsthand the result of war and the people it affects when he served in the '70s.
"As Americans, we are blessed to have so many people who have genuinely committed to something larger than themselves, people who understood duty for their greater good," Rosa said. "We must never forget that our freedoms we enjoy today are due to these men and women."
Then there was Councilwoman Billie Wheeler, who carried a special reminder of a veteran with her. Wheeler was named after her uncle who fought in the Battle of the Bulge where around 75,000 Americans died while fighting a German counteroffensive.
Wheeler emphasized the importance of the day and what it stands for, not only for the people there but for those who were not present.
"It's a reminder that as one nation and one people we can move forward with strength while honoring the past by coming together," Wheeler said. "On Memorial Day we demonstrate our patriotism — the bond that holds us together during wartime and peace."
As the ceremony came to a close, Taps was played on a trumpet, a 21-gun salute was fired and a wreath was placed at the foot of a memorial at City Center. However, the chair in the middle of the park remained empty.
"We know the price of freedom is paid with blood," Mayor Don Burnette said. "And rest assured that on this day and at this place, that blood and those people and their sacrifices are remembered."