ONECO, Fla. - A Bay area woman's only son is the first soldier from Manatee County to be killed in the war in Iraq.
Despite her heartbreaking grief year after year, she's rounded up people to honor Florida's servicemen and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. This year was no different.
Jarrett Givens was one of several young people who gathered Saturday morning at the American Legion Post 312 at 1610 67th Avenue East in Oneco. He and others placed nearly 200 American flags in a grass field in front of the American Legion post.
Each flag has a yellow ribbon on it, which represents a servicemember from Florida who lost their life at war. Givens says, "If they wouldn't have served for us we wouldn't have freedom."
It's something Givens says he's been doing for the past two or three years as a way to show his gratitude.
Sheila Cobb says the field of flags is moving. "It makes me feel sad and it makes me feel good."
The sight is bittersweet for Cobb, who's been organizing the event for the past seven years. She lost her son, Christopher, in the war in Iraq. He was just 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corp. He died two years later during an ambush.
Cobb fights back tears when she says, "This weekend is a sad moment because I know I'm doing this in memory of my son, but I've also been to his grave already this morning to visit him and decorate it for him for Memorial Day, but it's hard."
Hard no doubt for the other mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives who also grieve for their loved ones every day and especially over this Memorial Day weekend.
The American Legion Post has been renamed in honor of Sheila's son, but she wants to make sure other Florida military members who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan are honored too. She also wants everyone to remember our veterans who are still with us.
Cobb says, "Support our veterans that are still alive."