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Memorial Day event remembers fallen heroes

A plaque presentation from George Mutlos, left, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 23, with former Big Cypress Councilman David Cypress, was part of the Memorial Day event May 30 at the Veterans Fitness Trail Park in Big Cypress. (SMP)

About 20 Seminole and community members gathered to honor fallen soldiers at a Memorial Day event May 30, held at the Veterans Fitness Trail Park on the Big Cypress reservation.

“Memorial Day is about remembering those who have fallen in war,” Pastor Arlen Payne, of the Big Cypress New Testament Baptist Church, said to those in attendance. “Today all across the country there will be events like this.”

Payne emceed the event. A few tribal members and non-tribal servicemen and women spoke at the somber event.

“Today we pause to make sure they are not forgotten,” Richard Bowers said. “I’d like to remember all of our tribal ancestors who fought to keep us free,” said Joe Frank, Associate Justice on the Tribal Court. “And today’s tribal members that joined our new neighbors and allies in keeping us free.”

After the speeches, veterans from each branch of the military raised the flags of those branches to commemorate the day.

“We are thankful for everybody who’s here and thankful for many of them who serve, their dedication and commitment,” Payne said.

George Mutlos, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 23 in Fort Lauderdale, presented a plaque to show the organization’s appreciation for the support its golf tournament received from President Mitchell Cypress and the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc.

The plaque reads: “Thank you President Mitchell Cypress and the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. for their generous donation to benefit and support Chapter 23 Annual Golf Tournament. As a token of our appreciation, we present this to you.”

President Cypress’ brother, former Big Cypress Councilman David Cypress, received the plaque from Mutlos at the podium.

Richard Bowers speaks at the Memorial Day event in Big Cypress. (SMP)
The sculpture and tribute wall at the Veterans Fitness Trail Park in Big Cypress. (SMP)
Seminole veteran Paul Bowers attends the Memorial Day event. (SMP)
An aerial view of the Veterans Fitness Trail Park. (SMP)

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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