Memorial Day 2015 at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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Memorial Day 2015 at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015 at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

Another Memorial Day has come and gone and like last year, I spent part of it visiting the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Fla.

Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

The scenery was somewhat similar, except Patriot Plaza is complete with artwork honoring the men and women who served our country. I saw a woman sitting curl up in front of a headstone crying. She could have been the woman I saw last year.

Unlike last year, every white headstone had a crisp, red, white and blue American flag waving in front of it. Some organization – I’m not sure which, but I thank them – made sure there was a flag at every grave site.

Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

As I walked through the cemetery sections reading the headstones, one caught my eye because of the additional flags around it. My eyes welled with tears and couldn’t turn the waterworks off when I saw “KIA.” This soldier was 21 when he was killed in action in Afghanistan. Just 21. I’m 45 years old and have lived more than the twice the life he did yet he made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberties.

Thank you, Army Spc. Patrick L. Lay II, for your service. Rest in peace. Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

Thank you, Army Spc. Patrick L. Lay II, for your service. Rest in peace. Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla., May 25, 2015

The grave belongs to Army Spc. Patrick L. Lay II of Fletcher, N.C., killed on Aug. 11, 2011, by an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan. He was in Company C, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and was killed with four other soldiers. So, so young. Read more in this Stars & Stripes article and visit his memorial page on Facebook.

Everyday, I’m thankful for my liberties and traveling abroad makes me appreciate what we have in the U.S. The freedoms we have came with and continue to come with a price. Thank you to those who serve and thank you to those who gave.

View additional photos of the Sarasota National Cemetery on my Flickr stream.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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