Memorial Day 2015 at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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
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.

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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