An estimated 125 people attended the eighth annual Islander Veterans Tribute Nov. 11 outdoors at Holmes Beach City Hall. By the end, there was hardly a dry eye in the crowd.
The ceremony honored all veterans, particularly those who have been featured in The Islander’s Greatest Generation and Forgotten Generation columns.
Bonner Joy, editor of the paper, served as emcee.
Speakers included myself, Islander columnist for World War II and Korean War veteran stories, and Gene Ciliberti, who fought in the Korean War. The Rev. Ron Joseph gave the benediction.
Entertainer Mike Sales led the group in singing the Star Spangled Banner following the Pledge of Allegiance.
The event was highlighted by the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard, which presented the colors and a rifle salute, followed by member Bill Miller performing taps, the bugle call for departed comrades.
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer helped sponsor the event. The public works department assisted in the setup of the tables and chairs, while coffee and donuts were supplied by The Islander and Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe.
Joy announced the newspaper will begin interviewing Vietnam War veterans in the future as the number of WWII and Korean War veterans is dwindling.
There were few dry eyes remaining at the end of the ceremony as Sales sang God Bless America and guests departed.
Anyone who served in WWII, the Korean War or the Vietnam War in the U.S. Armed Forces or one of its allies interested in sharing their story is asked to call 941-778-7978.
See you next year for another tribute.
— Rick Catlin