News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY A Vietnam veteran proudly shows off his stripes.
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published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Saying thanks to the men and women who have kept us free
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Monday was warm and breezy, a perfect day for the Veteran's Day Parade and courthouse lawn ceremony.
All three high school bands performed for the veterans and their families, and there were representatives from each high school's Junior ROTC units. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were there, as was a large contingent of veterans from Tanglewood RV Park.
The crowd was sparse for the parade, but more people turned out for the ceremony. Everyone, however, more than made up for small numbers with their warmth, support and respect.
Highlands County students were at the core of the ceremony. Brett Bennett, cadet commander of the Avon Park High School Air Force JROTC, gave the invocation.
Three Lake Placid High School cadet in the school's Army JROTC spoke to the audience. Cadet Brittany Day explained the origins of Veteran's Day; Cadet Joe Heredia spoke of today's veterans; and Cadet Joshua Montero addressed the veterans of the future.
Heredia revealed he has already enlisted in the Florida National Guard and spent last summer in basic training. Returned home to finish high school, Heredia is headed to Fort Sills to take his advanced training upon graduation.
Montero reminded the audience of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. "They do what their country asks them to do. We owe them a great debt," he said. He added he plans to enlist in the Air Force soon. "I can see the pride in (the veterans') eyes. I want to have that pride too.
"I salute you on behalf of a grateful nation."
Cadet Rachel Gaidos, of Avon Park JAFROTC, gave the benediction.
Ninety-three-year-old Willis Robinson, who landed on Normandy and fought all the way to 50 miles short of Berlin -- the Russians occupied the city -- was applauded as was 100-year-old Navy veteran Fay Burkhart, who also served during World War II.
As Cadet Day told the audience, "Today we salute the soldiers and sailors of the United States, air, land and sea, as they continue to fight for our freedom. We are proud to honor those who fought before and those who will after."
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