Thousands pay tribute to veterans, remember slain Vero Beach soldier

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Only the sound of Old Glory waving in the breeze could be heard during a moment of silence as thousands recognized US military veterans while at Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary Thursday.

Among those the crowd remembered was US Army Specialist Dale Kridlo, a 33-year-old with family ties in Vero Beach. The serviceman was recently killed during a tour in Afghanistan, leaving behind his wife and twin daughters. His mother and stepfather live in Vero Beach and were recognized at the Veterans Day ceremony.

Chaplain Capt. Robert Bedingfield, of the US Navy, led the invocation, saying those who serve their nation “truly are priveleged – the few that served the many.”

Keynote speaker Col. Charles W. Mackett, of the US Air Force, agreed, noting that, again, the nation comes together during a time of war to remember those who have served, fought, died or gone missing during action.

“I can’t help but feel blessed,” the colonel said, not only for his personal life but also for his professional one – the Profession of Arms, “the finest profession” known.

“There is no greater force for good than the United States Military,” Col. Mackett said, drawing applause from the crowd. When there is conflict, famine, natural disaster – “to whom does everyone turn?” he asked. “The American military.”

Quoting President Thomas Jefferson, the colonel said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

He added, from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that “history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

The colonel said that is why the US military is strong and brave.

Chaplain Capt. Bedingfield told the audience to leave the “sacred island” warmed with the memories of what they saw, heard and felt today. He asked that they carry those memories forever.

“Go with a great deal of pride,” he said.

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