ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - The Memorial Day ceremony at Bay Pines National Cemetery is one of the largest in Tampa Bay, with over 4,000 people in attendance, paying respects to members of the military killed in combat.
It’s the only national cemetery between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, making it a very special ceremony with a consistently large turnout. Workers were seen early Monday morning lining the entryway with large American flags.
On Saturday, about 100 volunteers laid a U.S. flag on each grave site, for a grand total of 32,000 flags. There was one for almost every single grave.
Perhaps the most moving message on Memorial Day was from Florida U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Director Glenn Sutphin. "We're here to help the veterans and their families, the survivors," he said. The retired army colonel has soldiers who were under him buried in Bay Pines.
Jim Scarborough served as a combat infantryman in the Vietnam War.
He said Memorial Day is important for reflecting, but also teaches future generations about the sacrifices paid for freedom.
"More than anything else, it's being in the company of the veterans and the families, seeing how many people do come out and do realize how important it is to keep these memories alive,” Scarborough said.