FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. (May 27, 2024) – Colonel Mark Thieme, USMC (Retired) and Executive Director of the Florida State Guard served as the guest speaker at Flagler County’s Memorial Day ceremony, verbalizing the inner conflict many face on a day like Memorial Day.

Because of the proximity to so many annual milestones – the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and all the good things that come with this time of year, it’s logical to say ‘Happy Memorial Day’. But for the families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty to our nation, it’s an illogical thing to say.

“Today is an interesting one of deep contrast. One of short-term celebrations, against the backdrop of permanent grief,” said Thieme. “Today it is our obligation to reconcile these contradictions, appreciating in the belonging of each with absolute clarity.”

Col. Mark Thieme – Florida State Guard – Flagler News Weekly

This year, speeches and remarks were threaded with more of an undertone of understanding during remembrance ceremonies. More thought and attention paid to the sacrifice of both the person who passed and the people who live on after.

Thieme’s speech spoke directly to this conflict, echoing the sentiment of Flagler County Commission Chairman Andy Dance, who opened the ceremony.

“It’s an important day not just in Flagler County, but everywhere in the nation,” said Dance. “Flagler County has a great history of working with veterans. We have a large number of veterans and veteran’s organizations in the county so even from the county’s standpoint with our Veterans Services office, we’re doing everything we can to support veterans.”

“Today is important because we remember those who gave up their life for the country. Today is a solemn day in remembrance. Not a celebration but a remembrance,” he said.

Hosted by the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners and the Flagler County Veterans Advisory Council, emcee and Veterans Services Office David Lydon read the names of each veteran who had passed in Flagler County since last year’s ceremony.

Flagler News Weekly

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy read select remarks on behalf of the Flagler Woman’s Club, sharing the meaning behind the poppy flower as the Memorial flower from the World War I poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae, and Flagler County Judge Melissa Distler stood side-by-side with her mother Julia Moore as they honored Moore’s brother Vietnam Veteran Corporal Owen Niel Garnet, who died in the line duty on January 31, 1968.

“36 East, Row 9 is my brother’s spot on the wall,” Moore began of her baseball loving, 20-year-old brother.

“I could tell hundreds of stories about Owen but mostly want you to know he was a good, fun-loving guy. Our dad, who was a WWII vet, grieved in silence. I don’t know that our mother ever recovered. I just miss him,” she said through tears.

“Thank you all for coming here today. I know among you there are many veterans, are the parents, wives, husbands, siblings or other relatives of these veterans. Those among you like me grieve for a loved one, my heart goes to you as well, knowing what we have suffered. To those among you who are active duty, stay safe and know we are proud of you and all you give for our country.”

Julia Moore and Flagler County Judge Melissa Distler. Flagler News Weekly

“In Flanders Fields”


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

        In Flanders fields.

Presentation of the Colors. Flagler News Weekly

“We Shall Keep the Faith”

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honor of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.


Palm Coast City Councilwoman and Gold Star Mother Cathy Heighter, Flagler County Commission Chairman Andy Dance, Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen, Flagler County Commissioner Leann Pennington.