‘Day of reflection:’ Orlando VA pays tribute to fallen troops ahead of Memorial Day

Ceremony held at Memorial Park

ORLANDO, Fla. – Veterans, local leaders and community members came together for a Memorial Day tribute ahead of the holiday.

The ceremony was held Friday outside the Orlando VA Medical Center at Memorial Park.

Orlando VA Health Care System CEO Timothy Cooke offered the welcoming remarks.

“It is a day of reflection, gratitude and deep respect for those who have given their lives in defense of freedom,” Cooke said.

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During the remembrance, organizers paid tribute to members from all branches of the military who were killed while in service.

A special mention was made to the 1,186 service members from Central Florida whose names are etched in stone monuments at Memorial Park.

Tom Keen, who is a retired U.S. Navy commander, attended the ceremony and knows the pain of loss firsthand.

“Clearly, we have to honor the veterans that have fallen before us,” he said.

Keen was serving in 1986 when his squadron lost an aircraft with seven service members onboard.

“This is reserved specifically for those that have died and sacrificed their lives,” Keen said. “It’s very important to make sure that we continue to honor them.”

Friday’s ceremony was conducted in collaboration with the Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.