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Some find answers amid remembrance

At the Meadowlawn Memorial Gardens, a father and daughter search for meaning.

By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 26, 2002

"She's at that question age," her father, Michael Mulroy, said.

To find answers, Mulroy brought her to Meadowlawn Memorial Gardens 2002 Memorial Day Service, an hour and 15 minute celebration of America's veterans.

"We pay tribute to the people that fight the bad people," he told her.

The Mulroys were two of more than 500 people who gathered Saturday morning at the cemetery at 4244 Madison Street. The event was short on speeches, big on ceremony and laced with references to Sept. 11.

The crowd of mostly white-haired veterans sang along to God Bless America. They stood solemnly as gold star mothers, those who lost sons in service, had wreaths laid in their children's honor. They remained standing as riflemen fired three volleys.

"It may be helpful to remember that our flag is a symbol of everything America stands for in the aftermath of war, conflict and the tremendous tragedy we all felt on Sept. 11," Ed Jones, a past national commander of Navy Seabees Veterans of America, told the crowd.

For Michael Mulroy, who said he never served in the military, this wasn't about explaining Sept. 11 to his daughter. It was the opposite. Sept. 11 allowed him to introduce her to Memorial Day.

Mulroy kneeled in the grass and watched with Alyssa, who clutched a small flag in her right hand, as the veterans folded an American flag 13 times. Each fold had meaning.

No. 7 was for the forces that protect us from "enemies, whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our republic."

"It would be kind of hard," Mulroy said, "to explain the military and what it's about without 9/11."

-- Ryan Davis can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is

At the Meadowlawn Memorial Gardens, a father and daughter search for meaning.

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Five-year-old Alyssa Mulroy was headed to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee with her father on Saturday when she looked across the street, spotted dozens of American flags and asked, "Why?"

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