Veterans, families gather in Naples for Memorial Day observance

Published: May 31, 2021 12:12 PM EDT
Updated: May 31, 2021 5:27 PM EDT

Memorial Day is more than just hot dogs and picnics; it’s a day we honor those who lost their lives serving their country.

In Naples, 96-year-old Florence Weinstein reflected on what the day means to her. Her father and her husband served in WWI and WWII.

Now, she inspires generations of others to honor those we’ve lost.

Florence Weinstein (Credit: WINK News)

There is an old Jewish phrase, “tikkun olam.” It means “repair the world.”

“And if you do that, you can rest in peace,” Weinstein said.

She thinks of “tikkun olam” at her husband’s grave. They both served in WWII, and her dad served in WWI.

“He served honorably and he served for the full length of the war.”

Her husband didn’t die in war, but of course, so many did, and still, so many do.

That’s why Florence, in her star-spangled leggings at almost 97 years old, spent Memorial Day at Hodges Funeral Home in Naples, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I loved every part of it…I was very moved, it was very emotional,” she said.

“I think there’s nothing greater than to give your life for your country.”

Florence, who worked at a wartime message center, told me those who put our nation’s uniforms and certainly those who lose their lives serving, embody tikkun olam. They tried to repair the world and now they rest in peace.

“I’m thinking that it won’t be long before I’m resting beside him and we’ll be together,” she said. “And we’ll be close to the beach so we’ll be swimming!”

Florence and her husband were married for 62 years.

Gold Star sister reflects on her brother’s sacrifice

“I want you back, I love you, I appreciate everything you did for our country and I will always be honored by that…but I wish you were back,” said Linda Thompson about her brother, Sgt. Robert Louis Crews.

He was killed in action in Vietnam on May 2, 1968. He was selfless in his service in so many ways.

“He decided he would volunteer instead of wait to be drafted,” Thompson said. “His theory was if he did, his married friends that had children would not have to go to Vietnam and would not be exposed to the danger.”

He exposed himself instead and paid the ultimate price.

“I miss having a brother, being able to talk to someone like that,” his sister said.

Linda can’t talk to her brother, so she thinks about what she would say and what she can do to honor and remember him.

“People often get mixed up with what Veterans Day is, what Flag Day is, what Memorial Day is; Memorial Day is simply to honor those who passed on serving their country,” she said.

Linda’s mom helped found the first local Gold Star Moms chapter. She fought for it for years and never gave up, seeing it come to fruition when she was 92 years old, just before she passed.