Hundreds Gathered in Tallahassee to Commemorate and Pay Tribute
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida State Capitol Bureau) — Governor Ron DeSantis, alongside First Lady Casey DeSantis, hosted a Memorial Day BBQ in Tallahassee to honor the memory of fallen heroes. The event brought together hundreds of veterans, military families, Gold Star families, and those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. Over 500 attendees gathered at the Governor’s Mansion on Sunday evening, engaging in activities that paid homage to the ultimate sacrifices made by servicemen and women.
As the sun began to set on Sunday evening, the Governor’s Mansion became a symbol of remembrance and gratitude. The gathering was not only an opportunity for attendees to capture cherished moments in front of the stately mansion but also a time for kids to engage in joyful games, and for everyone to savor delicious food and engage in heartfelt conversations, all in honor of those who selflessly served our country.
“It means everything,” expressed Al Cooksey, who traveled from Monticello to attend the Governor’s cookout. Cooksey, an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War, was invited after participating in last year’s Honor Flight, an experience that left a profound impact on him. Accompanied by his family, Governor Ron DeSantis, and First Lady Casey DeSantis, Cooksey spoke passionately about the significance of recognizing America’s heroes and the transformative effect his military service had on his own life.
During the gathering, Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of honoring America’s heroes and cherishing their sacrifices. In his impassioned speech, Governor Ron DeSantis recognized the pivotal role played by those who wear the uniform, willingly risking their lives and, in some cases, making the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. “Unless you have people throughout our history that are willing to put on a uniform, risk their lives, and give the last full measure of devotion to this country, then a lot of those principles aren’t going to amount to very much,” Governor Ron DeSantis passionately stated.
Continuing his address, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted the profound commitment made by individuals who choose to serve, comparing their dedication to writing a blank check to the nation, potentially up to and including their lives. He emphasized that the sacrifices made by veterans and fallen heroes have been instrumental in shaping the United States into the successful nation it is today. “Not everybody has to pay the ultimate price, but some do, and without those sacrifices from the very beginning of our country, we would not have been able to be a successful country,” Governor Ron DeSantis affirmed.
Ashley Alexander, whose father served three tours in the Middle East, shared her thoughts on Memorial Day, saying, “It just reminds me of my dad and what he’s done. I think of all the things he missed in my life, but I know it was the sacrifice he had to give.” Her words echoed the sentiments of many in attendance, underscoring the lasting impact of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women on their families and loved ones.
The Memorial Day BBQ served as a poignant reminder of the fragility of freedom and the responsibility borne by each generation to safeguard it. Governor Ron DeSantis expressed his deep gratitude to the veterans, recognizing their unwavering commitment and selfless dedication to the defense of the nation. “Freedom is not something that can go on autopilot. It requires each generation to fight for it, and nobody has done that more than the veterans who have given the last full measure of devotion and service to this country,” Governor Ron DeSantis affirmed.
Attendees, like Al Cooksey, appreciated the governor’s efforts to place the military at the forefront and improve their welfare. Cooksey conveyed his gratitude, stating, “I appreciate what they’re doing to try and make the military, put them out front, and get everything working better.“
The Memorial Day BBQ hosted by Governor Ron DeSantis in Tallahassee served as a solemn and heartfelt tribute, uniting the community to honor the fallen and express gratitude to those who have served. The event not only underscored the sacrifices made by servicemen and women but also highlighted the enduring commitment to defending freedom, making it a memorable and impactful gathering for all in attendance.
“We have a great country. Our country was founded on important ideals in the Declaration of Independence and later reflected in the Constitution, and those are very important. They made us different from countries that had come before. But at the end of the day, you can have the best Declaration that's ever been written, and you can have the best Constitution that's ever been written. Still, unless you have people throughout our history that are willing to put on a uniform and risk their lives, and, in some cases, give the last full measure of devotion and service to this country, then a lot of those principles are not going to amount to very much. It requires bravery; it requires courage from each generation.
As a veteran--anybody that signs on that dotted line--you are effectively writing a check to this country for an amount up to and including your life. You don't know where they'll send you. You don’t know what will come your way. But you make the commitment that you are going to put service above self, and you are ultimately going to sacrifice your personal safety in order to serve the greater good of our defense.
Not everybody--even close to everybody--actually has to pay the ultimate price. But some do, and from the very beginning of our country, those who have done that, we would not have been able to be a successful country without those sacrifices. They have been indispensable to the United States becoming what they are.
We've got a lot of great people here today; we are going to meet with some of the families from 9/11. I'll tell you that is one of the reasons I joined the military after that. I know a lot of people did that. In our armed forces, we lost thousands of very good people in the aftermath of 9/11. Of course, we've lost tens of thousands in other conflicts like Vietnam and Korea, and many, many more than that, in World War II... and you go all the way back to the Civil War and the beginning.
These folks have made a difference. It's important that we commemorate that because I think sometimes people think that this all just kind of happens and that you don't get to fight for it. I know when I was growing up, I kind of just assumed that, right? We live in a free country. Freedom is fragile. Freedom is not something that can go on autopilot. It requires each generation to fight for it, and nobody has done that more than the veterans who have given the last full measure of devotion and service to this country.
So thank you, guys, for coming here. As we do this celebration, then tomorrow, keep those heroes at the top of our minds because it's really on their shoulders that were able to be here today. I look at the problems in our country and what we have got to do going forward. Part of it I--I look at this one and that one--and we want to make sure they live in freedom, but I also look back at the people that have made those sacrifices. Don't we owe it to them to make sure we are doing all we can to keep this country the freest place on earth? I think we owe it to them, and it would not be doing them justice unless we did everything we could to make sure America comes back stronger than ever. Thank you, all. God bless you.”
ABOUT GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS:
Governor Ron DeSantis, a native Floridian with humble origins, was raised in Dunedin by his parents—an industrious nurse and a cable box installer. He pursued his education at Dunedin High School and, through hard work, earned a place at Yale University., where he excelled as the captain of the varsity baseball team. Demonstrating his intellectual prowess, DeSantis graduated with honors from Harvard Law School.
Even during his time at Harvard, DeSantis displayed a deep sense of duty and patriotism. He obtained a commission in the U.S. Navy and served on active duty while pursuing his legal studies. Displaying remarkable courage and dedication, he was deployed to Iraq, where he actively contributed to the SEAL mission in Fallujah, Ramadi, and other areas of Al Anbar province. For his meritorious service, DeSantis was honored with prestigious military accolades, including the Bronze Star Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
Throughout his career as a Congressman, Governor Ron DeSantis continued to champion the rights and well-being of those who have served their country. He tirelessly advocated for reforms within the Veterans Administration, striving to improve the services available to veterans and expand support for mental health issues. DeSantis’ commitment to honoring and serving veterans reflects his deep respect and gratitude for their sacrifices.
Governor Ron DeSantis‘ journey, from his blue-collar roots to his prestigious education and military service, is a testament to his character and dedication. His relentless efforts to support and uplift those who have served our nation exemplify his unwavering commitment to the well-being of veterans.