The Armed Forces Retirement Home had a special Memorial Day ceremony for its veteran residents. In addition to honoring those who served, Monday was also the re-dedication of two symbols of American strength and freedom. Memorial Day at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport took on multiple meanings as veterans gathered for the holiday. Congressman Steven Palazzo says, “We owe them everything, our property, our freedom, and it’s a day when can say thanks.”
The day's ceremony honored the military and re-dedicated two wooden eagles with a rich history. Chuck Dickerson, an administrator at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, says, “These eagles, in the 1800s, they were there for the Civil War. They’ve seen a lot of wars across the United States.” The eagles stood at the Philadelphia Naval Home since the 1800s and were brought to Gulfport in 1976. After falling into disrepair, they were found discarded by a resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Dickerson also says, “The residents here restored them, made these pillars for them and here they are today.” Palazzo also says, “I’m somewhat of a pack rat, and if I'd found these eagles, they would have ended up in my house somewhere.”
The man who found the eagles in a Gulfport trash can died on Memorial Day. Monday, his family is present to help re-dedicate the treasure he found. Palazzo also says, “To know that they were almost discarded with so much history is fantastic.” The veterans appreciate this Memorial Day, not only to remember what they went through, but also to hopefully teach the next generation. Doris Jones, a military retiree of the U.S. Army, says, “We need to continue to do these ceremonies so the young people will understand what the veterans went through to get a free country.”
Frederick J. Petersen, a military retiree of the U.S. Navy, says, “Children nowadays don’t realize history and need these functions, and some of these history books don’t even teach them anymore.” The eagles are now perched on Styrofoam platforms that were constructed by veterans that live at the home. The two eagle statues will now greet visitors as soon as they get off the elevator at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.