Veterans and current members serving in the United States Armed Forces were honored during the Veterans Day Ceremony last Wednesday on Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, hosted by the Veterans Council of Indian River County.
Flags waved in the breeze as the Vero Beach High School Band played a medley of patriotic songs, interspersed with vocal performances before the program.
The audience was visibly moved as veterans from World War II to current conflicts were acknowledged with full military honors that included a Parade of the Colors, rifle salute, and the placing of the wreath in the Gold Star Family Grove near the cenotaph field to honor the fallen.
The keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Curtis Holden, USA (Ret.), a 25-year military veteran, retired police officer and current Veterans Council vice chairman.
“I stand in front of you as a veteran who feels fortunate to be able to serve in the finest military the world has ever known,” said Holden, before addressing veterans and current military members.
“You remind us of our fundamental truth. It’s not the powerful weapons that make the military the strongest in the world. It’s not the sophisticated weapons that make us the most advanced. The true strength of our military lies in the spirit and skills of our people in uniform.”
Noting that less than 1 percent of the more than 300 million people living in America serve as soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardsmen today, he said “never in American history have so few protected so many.”
Holden challenged the crowd to “do better” for veterans, commenting that homelessness is an issue that affects veterans disproportionately. One aspect of the Veterans Council, which is comprised of local veteran organizations, civic associations and community partners, is to assist homeless veterans to find jobs and housing.
“From the greatest generation to the latest generation, let us never forget the debt they [veterans] are owed. No government commission or single dollar amount can adequately repay what has been given to all of us throughout our nation’s history. By simply doing their duties, veterans were willing to step forward in harm’s way so that others can share the same gifts of liberty and prosperity that we enjoy,” said Holden. “Remember, freedom is not free. God bless our veterans and God bless America.”
For more information, visit veteranscouncilirc.club.