Monday, May 21, 2012

Kirby Stewart's Memorial Day tribute

Many will be our Memorial Day events.
A parade in Lakewood Ranch.
A ceremony at Sarasota National Cemetery honoring Patrick Lay, killed in Afghanistan last August.
A procession to the gravesite of one of Bradenton's beloved sons: Kirby Stewart.
On May 28 American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24's Honor Guard and Legion Riders as well as other Legion organizations will conduct a procession to a memorial service at Stewart's gravesite in Fogartyville Cemetery.
They will pay homage to a man who is a Bradenton legend and was cheated by fate of becoming a national hero.
Stewart, a second lieutenant, was killed October 1918 in France during World War I, leading an attack against a German position.
Instead, another man under his command, Cpl. Alvin York, took that handful of soldiers to victory against staggering odds, capturing more than 100 German officers and soldiers.
Stewart, 27, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and received a big funeral attended by hundreds if not thousands in 1921.
York, 30, received a Medal of Honor and joined the pantheon of America’s war heroes.
Devout and modest, York spurned many endorsement opportunities, but used his renown and the proceeds from his biography and the 1941 movie “Sergeant York” — Gary Cooper played York and won an Oscar for Best Actor — to start schools for poor Tennessee mountain children like himself.
York died in 1964 at the age of 76 and is buried in Pall Mall, Tenn.
At Post 24's 90th anniversary three years ago, commandant Len Sirotzki said, "Most people don’t know or understand that had Kirby not been killed, there never would’ve been a Sgt. York story."

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