Memorial Day. Why do we pause to remember?

Memories of ‘how life used to be’ occasionally come to mind. We remember scenes of a departed loved one, friend, or even a pet. If there was a nearby grave, we would visit it sooner or later to honor and affirm the life was missed, had value and, for veterans, did not die in vain. … Memorial Day became a natural result.

Campfire Stories:


Interred here are the remains of 19 soldiers…” The words echoed in my head as the message on the sea weather-worn plaque was read aloud. “…were members of the garrison of 200 stationed here during the first United States occupation of Fort St. Marks, May 1818 through March 1819…”

The location of this historical fort, known as Spanish Fort San Marcos, on the bank where two rivers meet and flow as one into the Gulf of Mexico a few miles south, was a prime strategic location for military artillery. But, why was a U.S. military force there in 1818? The territory of La Florida was in possession of Spain, and San Marcos was one of its north La Florida coastal fortifications.

Answer: the U.S. invaded the panhandle of Spanish La Florida reportedly ‘to protect its national interests,’ and all the Spanish military leaders surrendered. Not until Spain ceded La Florida to the U.S. in 1821 did La Florida become a Territory of the United States. President James Monroe in March 1822 appointed William Duval as the first Governor of Florida Territory.


Today, St. Marks, Florida, is a wonderful, out of the way small fishing and recreational community, with lots of docks and tiki-hut type reality. The two century-old fort grounds with artillery mounds, and cemetery remain along with a museum structure similar to the time, though. They remind us of another time, place, and sacrifices of real people of history.


As our present-day U.S. Memorial Day approached, I kept wondering if family, friends, the government, or anyone ever honored those 19 soldiers over the 200 years? No names were listed. Records lost? Were they unknown? Did mothers and dads ever know what happened to their sons? After all, many of the parents would have witnessed 1776 and the birth of the Nation.   

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Along the backroads across the Nation, you’ll see them—people in cemeteries, solemnly walking from tombstone to tombstone. They come to tidy up the site, pay respects, and make sure memory of a loved one isn’t lost in the ashes of history.

Memorial Day blooms.

After a while, you’ll see them stand to walk away. Steps often will be slow and, sometimes, the person will turn to say a temporary, “Goodbye.” … Eventually, they’ll walk by the block of large flags in the cemetery, waving overhead in the breeze which, in a way, assures us, “Freedom still exists in America, but remember, the cost is paid by the sacrifices and devotion of soldiers and their families!”

Hundreds of thousands of such military stones can be found in cemeteries spread across these United States ever since our founders gave their own lives, not long after Independence 1776. Some are in remote places, like the historic Fort St. Marks Military Cemetery mentioned above. Others are in more private settings, and others in foreign locations, like the U.S. Military Cemetery at Normandy, France established after D-Day.

A few years ago, I heard the long-time Tallahassee resident, General Snowden, age 90+ at the time and highest ranking surviving officer of Iwo Jima, ask slowly in a tone of deep anguish, “Where do we get such men and women?” ... And, “What would they have become had their lives not been shortened? ... How many would’ve been leaders in their towns, skilled surgeons, motivational teachers, governors, presidents, Nobel winners? ... How can we ever repay them and their families?”

I’ve reflected on those questions, as I’m sure many others have. I don’t have any answers, and doubt if any realistic possibilities exist. … And what about those Missing in Action, who’ve never returned?


Many families have been able to lay their loved one to rest in a cemetery where they could each visit any time they desired. I can’t imagine the anguish, though, a family has with a missing in action (MIA) never to be found! I’m sure there would always be the wonder if the MIA would someday walk through the door, but how long would that hope linger—years, a life-time?


Consider for example, WW II and the 3rd Army under General George Patton as it fought for 281 straight days through France, Germany, Austria and into Czechoslovakia. The 3rd army lost 27,104 killed and 28,237 “missing in action.” ... That was 28,237 families who never had the opportunity to lay their loved one to rest. ... Is there ever any closure one year or even eighty years later?


So, as you physically or mentally walk slowly among your loved ones this Memorial Day weekend 2023, also fly the flag, wear a poppy, and go out of your way to acknowledge someone and their family, who gave much or all for you and me to have the freedoms we take for granted. … Better yet, make this a regular step in your life journey. And, if anyone ventures close to the Fort San Marcos Cemetery, would you add a flower or two to honor those 19 soldiers of 1818?

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Lastly, a personal, family note: I grew up in western Oklahoma, on a small farm and then in a small country town. I’ll never forget decorating gravesites with my Mom and family. She was a force not to be stopped at those times! Seemed to be related to everyone in the cemetery as Mom would insist putting at least one flower on what seemed like each grave. She’d fondly say from her memory, “I know this person (or family), and none of their family will be here today.” Seems to me, it’s such compassion how Memorial Day came to be a national event and include everyone.


Thanks for stopping by my Campfire, and sharing these memories.


I’ll keep the campfire burning,




PS: Pass this Memorial Day Tribute and Honor to our Veterans along to someone else. Your remembering may be the highlight of their year! And, others can receive their own copy and future ones too by sending Clifton Savoy a note either by email or through the Contact message on his website. and

Photos (top down): 1) Ft. San Marcos Cemetery plaque by J. Savoy.

2) Spanish soldiers sketch by C. Butler of Leeds, United Kingdom.

3) Veteran Memorial Field by K. Smith of Tulsa. 4) Courtesy National Archives, WW II D-Day U.S. Military Cemetery at Normandy, France. 5) General Lawrence F. Snowden, courtesy use by Turtle Cove Press (


Campfire Stories coming around the bend: Father's Day Recognition, July 4th: ‘A World Champion Bronc Rider & an Acadamey Winning Movie Star.’ Plus, there’ll be a yummy recipe. … Remember: Campfire Stories are always free and you can drop out any time. Join at: or send Clifton an email at:


God bless! ... cs

Recipe Today:

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apples!

By J. Savoy

small-medium butternut squash

1-2 apples

2 Tablespoon Maple syrup

 Peel and dice the butternut squash. Slice the apples and toss them with the butternut squash. Add extra virgin olive oil and toss. Add salt and pepper. Place on large baking sheet and bake in 425 degree oven 20 minutes until tender.. Remove from oven and add the maple syrup. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Delicious! Enjoy!