In previous years, Emerald Coast Young Marines have met for the first drill in December for regular drill starting at 0800 hrs, followed by their Christmas party at 1300 hrs and then lining up at 1530 hrs for the annual Crestview Christmas parade which starts at 1730 hrs down Main Street and lasts about 2 hours. All of this activity makes for a very long day for the Young Marines, staff, and parents.
This year however, we were offered the opportunity to march in the Niceville Christmas parade which started at 1000 hrs; and this years parade was even more special because it fell on December 7th. The theme of the parade was "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" and its purpose was to honor veterans and at the same time display the Christmas spirit.
Many WWII veterans were in attendance as well as veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. ECYM was honored to follow behind the float carrying the Grand Marshalls who were WWII veterans. It was a cold windy day but well worth the time to spend honoring veterans.
After the completion of the parade, the ECYM dismissed to Superior Residences for their Christmas party and took time to visit with some of the residents of the home. The party was fun, pizza was great, and the Young Marines also had the opportunity to play a game and win prizes.
During the party, Mr. Dominique made a presentation to the ECYM 2013 Young Marine of the Year, YM/GySgt Michael Warren, and to 2013 Adult Volunteer of the Year, Mrs. Kathy Warren.
The following week, YM Warren and Mrs. Warren attended a luncheon hosted by the Niceville Rotary Club who had sponsored the Christmas parade. They awarded prizes to the individual groups who took part in the parade and the ECYM won 2nd place for a marching unit!
WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA
Each year on the second Saturday of December at the same time across the country, wreaths are laid in a special ceremony at the gravesites of veterans at veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states, ceremonies at sea, and 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.
Wreath orders can be taken all year long but the ECYM collect donations and wreath orders mainly during October and November. The ceremonies take place regardless of the weather. Our unit has been present for the ceremony at Barrancas National Cemetery at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL for the past 4 years in freezing cold and strong winds, in comfortable temperatures, and this past December, there was a threat of 90% rain. Our prayers were answered and the day was cloudy but the rain held off until long after the ceremony.
Laying of the wreaths is done with reverence by each Young Marine. After the wreaths are laid, the cemetery looks beautiful with all the white headstones and the green wreaths with red ribbons. It is an awe-inspiring event and probably one that will stay with the Young Marines for a long time. The ceremony that follows the laying of the wreaths includes several military speakers and senators and representatives from Florida. There is also a presentation of wreaths to a representative of each branch of the military, a representative of POW/MIA, and to Rosie the Riveter. Several Young Marines of ECYM took part in the presentation of the wreaths to the representatives.
At the end of the year, Mrs. Warren, the Adjutant, totaled up all of the volunteer hours performed by both the Young Marines and all of the Registered Adults. These totals will be furnished to the organization, Presidential Service Awards. Awards will be handed out in 2014.
The totals were: