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Memorial Day

U.S. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson
Except for my three plus year stint in the Army I can't recall ever having attended a Memorial Day Ceremony. But, for some reason (perhaps because we now live in foreign country) it seemed appropriate that we make the effort to attend and show our respect to those who have contributed so much to securie the freedoms we tend to take for granted. It was a short ceremony (45 min), at the Corozal American Cemetery, with several speakers, including the U.S. Ambassador to Panama and music by a small U.S. Air Force band, in a gorgeous setting. It was a nice ceremony and I'm glad we took the time to attend.

A few things that made this ceremony different (special):

Band from the USNS Comfort USNS Comfort

The U.S. Air Force band - strangely, stationed aboard a U.S. Navy ship (the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship) that is finishing a humanitarian mission in the region with a stop in Panama. If you've never had the opportunity the hear your National Anthem played in a foreign country, believe me, it's special.

The crowd, though mainly Panamanian, consisted of many U.S. Armed Forces Veterans and members of local VFW Posts. Remember, Panama has had a long history with the United States (some good, some bad) and many Panamanians served in our military or were born to American parents stationed in the Canal Zone.

Reading of Presidential Proclamation

The U.S. flag flies here at the Cemetery and only one other place in the entire county - the U.S. Embassy.

Corozal American Cemetery, Panama
Lastly, the Corozal American Cemetery is a unique place. One of only 24 American military cemeteries located in a foreign country, it is operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission and is the only ABMC cemetery still accepting interments. It's also unique in that it contains the remains of veterans that served in the Civil War and every conflict since. The oldest grave dates to 1790. Also interned here are civilians that died while working on the Panama Canal. See a short video about Corozal American Cemetery.

Take care.

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