Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 24, 2015 1:00 a.m.

memorial day

Fernandina Beach will observe Memorial Day 2015 at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 25, during a public ceremony at the
foot of Centre Street.

Today is Memorial Day. Once known as Decoration Day, It was formally established by an Act of Congress in 1971. But its true origins date back to the aftermath of the Civil War.

Unlike Veterans Day — once called Armistice Day — Memorial Day is not intended to honor all veterans of American conflicts. Rather, it is intended to honor only those who died in service of our country. Freedom isn’t free. Since 1776, it has cost us 1.3 million lives.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, places flags at more than 224,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday in preparation for Memorial Day. (Photo by Spec. Steven Hitchcock/ U.S. Army)
Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, places flags at more than 224,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday in preparation for Memorial Day. (Photo by Spec. Steven Hitchcock/ U.S. Army)

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Jennie Haskamp is a Marine Corps veteran who continued to work for the Corps as a civilian after leaving active duty in 2006 because her friends were still deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. In a recent Washington Post article entitled “I’m a veteran and I hate ‘Happy Memorial Day.’ Here’s why,” she lamented that Memorial Day has become nothing more than a long weekend and an explosion of commercial sales for far too many of us. She said, “So yeah. I’m frustrated by Memorial Day. And I’m angry about apathy. I want to see people besides the small percentage of us who are veterans, know veterans, love veterans or lost veterans, understand what the day is about. It’s the one day on the American calendar meant to exemplify what it costs to be American and to be free… and we’ve turned it into a day off work, a tent sale and a keg of beer.”

One of our local veterans, Phil Scanlan, sent this email to many of us the other day:

1st Lt. Philip Scanlan, 1968
Army 1st Lt. Philip Scanlan, 1968

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.  Please remember those who have lost their lives in wars fighting for our freedom and our way of life.   I am sure they would expect citizens to speak up when our way of life is threatened. 
I served in Vietnam in 1968 and after being there only 30 days the TET offensive surprise attack hit 100 cities. It hit Nha Trang first, where I had been assigned as a 1st Lt. Communications Officer in the US Army. I had initially been assigned to night duty and to quarters all by myself because the better officers quarters two blocks down the street was full. All 26 US soldiers at that better quarters were killed during that surprise attack 1/30/68.  Although I did not know them, I think of them often – not just Memorial Day. They never had the chance to live on wonderful Amelia Island – or to enjoy the wonderful life I have had.” 


The Fernandina Observer invites you to add your memories of those who fell defending this country as comments to this article. In the meantime, we add our voices to those who mourn the dead while acknowledging their sacrifice in the service of our nation.

Thank you.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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gerry clare
gerry clare(@gerrycclaregmail-com)
7 years ago

Honoring my high school classmate, Malcolm Tassey who died in Viet Nam and college classmate Norm Soine who fought there and died later from effects of agent orange. To all who fought our wars a day of remembrance.

Mitch Rushton
Mitch Rushton (@guest_36220)
7 years ago

What a story Phil, thank you for sharing and thank you for your service. I understand a little better of why you seem to always stay busy with different projects, you are a very fortunate and blessed man. See you down town.

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36224)
7 years ago

Phillip, Thank you for sharing that story. The ones of us who have served, and come back to enjoy a wonderful life, and especially the one’s who have never served, this country. Should pause, and thank those who have given, everything for our County. Bless them.

Helen Green
Helen Green (@guest_36225)
7 years ago

My cousin, Tommy Fulford, served during the beginning of the Vietnam war, and it was there that he gave his life. He was not mentioned in the News Leader, which is sad, because his fight for our freedom was done with honor. After all these years, he is still missed. We are proud of someone who gave his all, as we are proud to live in America.

Peggy Lehosit
Peggy Lehosit (@guest_36262)
7 years ago

I am glad you survived your time in Vietnam Nam and were able to return home, Phil. I wish all those other wonderful people could have as well.
I thank you for your service then and I thank you for your continued service as spokesperson in defense of Nassau County residents hoping to be heard in the struggle to prevent the Port’s plans to spoil Amelia Island.

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