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Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Lake City VA

By Cynthia Snook

The Lake City Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center will be hosting their Annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday, May 26 beginning at 9:30 AM at Lake City VA Medical Center front lawn (Marion Avenue side), 619 South Marion Avenue in Lake City. 

“This annual event provides those in our area an opportunity to gather together to pay tribute to and honor those servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price to ensure the democratic principles that our nation was founded upon,” said Thomas Wisnieski, Director, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SGVHS).

During this Ceremony there will be three guest speakers.  Major Stroupe is a retired Sergeant Major from the United States Army with more than 26 years of active duty. He will speak about the history of Memorial Day. After his military retirement he worked in a few different jobs until he found his calling as a County Veterans Service Officer and retired as the Director of Veterans Services of Alachua County in 2013. He has been an active member of the American Legion and the Forty and Eight while he holds memberships in a number of other local and national Veterans organizations. He also serves his local community on the Board of Directors of Elders Options, the local Area Agency on Aging, where he has served for over 16 years.

The second speaker, Richard Hunt,  enlisted in the United States Marine Corp at the age of seventeen.  He will tell a story about Memorial Day.  After initial training at Paris Island, South Carolina and Camp Lejeune North Carolina, he was assigned duty at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii with the 1st Battalion 27th Marine Regiment as a Battalion Scout.  The Battalion was sent as a unit to Vietnam as reinforcements for TET, 1968 and saw heavy combat. After completion of his enlistment with an Honorable Discharge, he attended college, majoring in business and minoring in accounting and German. Richard is retired from the US Postal Service and lives with his wife Mickey in Floral City. 

The third speaker, Brigadier General James Albritton graduated from the University of Florida receiving a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.  During his first tour of duty General Albritton was assigned as a mission pilot, flying T-33 aircraft at Tyndall AFB, Florida. General Britton also received training in the F-4 as an aircraft commander at MacDill, AFB, Florida. He then was assigned to the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand where he flew 183 combat missions in Southeast Asia. As a command pilot, General Albritton has flown more than 3,800 hours in thirteen different military aircraft. Brigadier General Albritton retired from the USAF on September 1, 1980.

Other participants include our Mistress of Ceremony, Syvonne Carter, Acting Associate Director , NF/SGVHS. United States Navy Veteran Dennis Pollard will read the “Mike Christine Story.”  Lake City Police Chief Argatha Gilmore will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Councilman Eugene Jefferson will ready a Memorial Day Proclamation on behalf of Mayor Stephen Witt.  Richardson Middle School Chorus will lead all in the National Anthem, directed by Christy Robertson and provide the special music.  The invocation (and benediction) will be provided by Lake City VA Chaplain Richard Prentiss.  Columbia High School Senior Jordan Fraze will once again play taps.
Public is invited to attend. For those attending the ceremony, extra parking will be available across the street in the Winn Dixie parking lot from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM courtesy of the Winn Dixie Manager.  Refreshments provided by the Lake City Veterans Canteen Service and the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks Lodge 893, Lake City Florida.  For additional information please email