Big Bend Honor Guard remembers veterans on Memorial Day

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Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- About 100 people attended the Memorial Day ceremony at Oakland Cemetery, organized by the Big Bend Honor Guard.

It started at 11 a.m. and ended at noon with a bugle playing, and the raising of the flag to full staff.

Bonnie McHugh is a local Desert Storm and Desert Shield veteran.

"This is me in my 300 Army Reserve Military Police Unit," said McHugh.

She followed in her father's footsteps when he joined the military. Robert C. Dambeck was just 37 years old when he was killed during his third tour in Vietnam. Bonnie was just 13.

"It's times like this that I think of him," said McHugh. "This is why I joined the military."

He was a marine who also served in Korea. McHugh brought an award she received, her father's picture, an etching of his name from the Vietnam war memorial and her family's gold star flag from their window.

"If you're waiting for a veteran to come home, it's blue," said McHugh. "But if they've passed, it's gold."

She also brought hers and her father's dog tags, kept on a chain together.

Retired Navy Chief Paul Lucarelli described his military experience as a team effort.

"It's multiple people doing their job. It's like if you launch one airplane, it takes 100 people to get that airplane airborne, and recovered back. That's what we did," said Lucarelli.

He said he is still a part of that team.

"We reflect on their memories, and we show them honor and respect," said Lucarelli.

The community came together to honor the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

"Let people know that freedom is not cheap," said Lucarelli. "It has a price, and you have to pay the price."

One speaker discussed the importance of visiting a smaller cemetery such as Oakland, in addition to the larger Tallahassee National Cemetery. He said there are 165 veterans buried at Oakland.

"They made the path that we have to walk in and it's because of them that we have our freedom," said McHugh.

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