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Key Biscayne leaders marked Memorial Day with a call for remembrance and for service, joining Americans across the nation in ceremonies to honor the nation’s war dead.

About 100 people gathered at the Village Green on a sunny but hot day, with veterans saluting as a the nation’s flag was presented by a color guard of police and fire personnel.

“These courageous individuals came from different  backgrounds and different walks of life. But they all shared a common belief in the ideals of liberty, justice, and democracy,” said Mayor Joe Rasco.

Key Bicayne Mayor Joe Rasco honors the nation’s war dead at a Memorial Day service, May 27, 2024.

Added Village Manager Steve Williamson, a retired Army colonel: “We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden marked the day with a pledge that the country would continue the work of the nation’s fallen toward a more perfect union, “for which they lived, and for which they died.”

Delivering remarks at a solemn remembrance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Biden said each generation must ensure the sacrifice of the country’s service members is not in vain.

“Freedom has never been guaranteed,” Biden said under gray skies in the memorial amphitheater. “Every generation has to earn it, fight for it, defend it in the battle between autocracy and democracy, between the greed of a few, and the rights of many.”

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Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of the summer travel season, and U.S. airlines expect to carry a record number of passengers this summer. Their trade group estimates that 271 million travelers will fly between June 1 and August 31, breaking the record of 255 million set last summer.

On the road, AAA predicted this will be the busiest start-of-summer weekend in nearly 20 years, with 43.8 million people expected to roam at least 50 miles from home between Thursday and Monday — 38 million of them taking vehicles.

The annual expression of wanderlust that accompanies the start of the summer is happening at a time when Americans tell pollsters they are worried about the economy and the direction of the country.

In what had long been celebrated every May 30 to honor America’s fallen soldiers, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971, observed on the last Monday in May.

Some have questioned the lack of focus on the fallen, but Key Biscayne’s guest speaker, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Miller, disagreed.

“Some vets criticize what Memorial Day is turned into. Some say that Memorial Day is a day to go to the beach, it’s a day to have a barbecue, it’s a day to go to Home Depot, and buy some stuff on sale.

“But you know what? I say go ahead and do that. Those that served, they died so we could live the life we want to live.”

What matters, Miller said, is service.

“Some people think that truly to serve you have to be in the military, but I would disagree with that. We can all serve in one way or another, whether it be serving your community, volunteer work, we all have some form of service. And if you we all do these things they will be looking down on us and they will recognize that their sacrifice was worth it.

Editor-in-Chief

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow...