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Memorial Day

May 20, 2014
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

One of the annual “Monday” holidays that the federal government observes each year is Memorial Day. Originally set for May 30 of each year, the date became a floating holiday as a part of the National Holiday Act of 1971. Now it is observed on the last Monday of May each year. Many people of military background felt that this move diminished the significance of the holiday. Truly, many Americans probably don’t understand the meaning and history of Memorial Day. The day differs from Veterans Day in November, when the nation pauses to remember all its members of the armed forces.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for the more than 1.8 million Americans who have died in our nation's service. The day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

For many families Memorial Day is a day off of work and the beginning of summer. For two former IRCS families it is much more than that. Alumni Corporal Frank Gross and Staff Sergeant Matt Sitton both died while serving their country with the US Army in Afghanistan. Frank was killed on July 16, 2011, after serving just one month there. Matt was killed on August 2, 2012, one month before he was to return from his third tour. Both of these men graduated from IRCS in the class of 2004. Both were outstanding baseball players for the Golden Eagles. Frank set all of our baseball pitching records and Matt all of our hitting marks. Both went to the Dominican Republic on a baseball mission trip twice during high school. I had the privilege of handing both of them there high school diploma and giving the congratulatory hug that goes with it. Both went on to play college baseball. Both had a great sense of humor, loved life, and lived it to its fullest. Both had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and knew him as their Savior. To the families of Frank and Matt, Memorial Day has a much more significant meaning.

Since the holiday began with the placing of flowers on the graves of soldiers, I thought it might be appropriate to share with you where Frank and Matt were laid to rest. When soldiers are deployed to a war zone they fill out a card of their last wishes. One of the preferences listed is where they would be buried in the event of being killed in action. Frank chose the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. Matt chose the serenity of the Memorial Garden, right here on the property of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Frank and Matt.

May we never forget.

On Memorial Day, the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks will be observing this holiday with a special service in our Fellowship Center. The service is scheduled to go from 10:00 - 11:00 am. There will be members from the Gross and Sitton families present.  We invite everyone to come out and be a part of this special time of rememberance.


Gaynelle renshaw says:
May 21, 2014 01:15 AM CST
Both Frank and Matt were wonderful guys. Always made me smile. So many memories of them both. Frank wearing his collar flipped up. Matt always had a sweet smile. I am blessed to have known them and will be blessed to see them again. Wish I could be there to give you all a hug. I'll be there in spirit.
Toni Gross, Frank's Mom says:
June 01, 2014 12:46 AM CST

Mr. Banse,

Thank you for remembering our sons, Frank and Matt, on this solemn day, Memorial Day, a day to remember our war dead.Many are the wonderful memories that I have of Frank's four years at IRCS. My gratitude to you and Frank's teachers, I know that you cared for him as you invested in him both intelllectually and spiritually. The last few moments I spent with Frank before he deployed to Afghanistan, was at his barracks at West Fort Hood, TX, I prayed with him, we prayed together. No sweeter cherished memories could there be.