Pinellas County residents will join forces with Americans across the nation to observe Veterans Day on Wednesday with ceremonies and events.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 94,997 veterans were living in Pinellas County in 2014 with nearly 1.57 million in Florida. California had the most veterans, 1.7 million, and Florida tied with Texas for second place.
Veterans Day celebrations in Pinellas are a long tradition. One of the largest local ceremonies begins at 11 a.m. in the courtyard between buildings 2 and 37 on the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center campus. Hosted by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare system, its’ open to all veterans, families, friends and the public.
This year’s keynote speaker is Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, Chief of Staff of U.S. Central Command. U.S. Rep. David W. Jolly, 13th District, will also speak. Veterans Affairs speakers will include Suzanne M. Klinker, director of Bay Pines VAHCS; Kerrie L. Witty, director of the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office; and Charles “Rudy” Arnold, assistant director of the Bay Pines National Cemetery.
The Florida Orchestra and Keswick Christian School Choir are set to provide music and song. There will be a special parade of colors provided by local veterans service organizations, and traditional military presentations including the posting and retiring of the U.S. flag, a live-firing salute, and a taps performance.
Signs will be posted on the medical center campus to direct visitors. Reserved and general parking will be available nearby. A shuttle service will provide transportation for guests from parking lots to the outdoor ceremony area. The Bay Pines VAHCS encourages all participants to dress appropriately for the weather. For driving directions, campus maps and more visit www.baypines.va.gov/locations/directions.asp.
Other local events and ceremonies
• The city of Largo will honor all veterans and active-duty personnel in a Veterans Day Ceremony at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Military Court of Honor in Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.
The ceremony will include music by Florida Fan Fare Brass, a keynote speaker and color guard presentation.
Join in before the ceremony starting at 11:11 a.m. for a live band, activities, military vehicle displays, bird displays and a cookout in the park. Several motorcycle groups, including the Patriot Guard Riders, Infidels, American Legion Riders, Coast Guard Riders and VFW Riders will begin the day with a ride down West Bay Drive.
At the park, learn about the Avian Veterans Alliance and its benefits from raptor program director Patrick Bradley, check out free-flight bird shows, take a picture with a bald eagle, speak with falconers and rehabbers, and hear from educational programs from across the state. The day will include canine demonstrations, including a bomb-sniffing dog, brass bands, color guards, and drill teams. For information, visit LargoEvents.com or call 587-6740, ext. 5014.
• The 28th annual Veterans Day Service begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, 1750 Curlew Road in Palm Harbor. Guest speaker is to be Army Sgt. Maj. Stephen Houten. The event will include the Presentation of the Colors, Westlake Christian School, Palm Harbor United Methodist Church Choir and American Gold Star Mothers of Tampa Bay. Call 727-789-2000 or visit CurlewHills.com.
• Join the Brookdale Pinecrest community for a Veterans Day celebration from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at 1150 Eighth Ave. S.W. The free event will feature a Marine Corps Honor Guard, remarks from state Rep. Larry Ahern and from keynote speaker U.S. Rep. David Jolly. Refreshments will be included. For more information or to make reservations, call 581-8142.
• The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will offer free bus rides to active military and veterans in recognition of Veterans Day. Riders are asked to show active or retired military identification when boarding any PSTA bus or trolley to qualify for a free ride. Acceptable forms of identification include a military ID card, Veterans Affairs medical card, veteran’s designation on a driver’s license, certificate of release, or a certificate of discharge from active duty. PSTA offers bus service to all three of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System facilities that operate in Pinellas County. These facilities include the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Bay Pines and VA outpatient clinics located in St. Petersburg and Palm Harbor. For information on trip planning and individual routes, visit www.PSTA.net or call the InfoLine at 727-540-1900.
• To show appreciation for local veterans and their families, Pinellas County is waiving the daily parking fees at county parks on Veterans Day. These parks will offer free parking to all visitors: all county boat ramps, Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Sand Key Park in Clearwater and Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde. Other county managed parks offer free parking daily. For a list of Pinellas County parks or to get information, visit www.pinellascounty.org/park.
3 Daughters launches new beer to honor veterans
3 Daughters Brewing, the largest craft brewery in St. Petersburg, is launching its fourth can, this time as a tribute to United States military veterans. The can celebrates 3 Daughters Brewing’s inaugural My Hero series, with all proceeds being donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation.
Code named Tango Yankee (military shorthand for TY or “Thank You”), the beer is an American Wheat Ale available in a limited edition can. The first can in the series is especially meaningful to 3 Daughters Brewing, as it will feature Bruce Wells Harting, grandfather to the three girls who inspired the name for the brewery.
While 3 Daughters Brewing selected its own veteran hero for 2015, it anticipates in each subsequent year to select a hero from nominations submitted by the community. Each annual Tango Yankee will reflect a unique story of bravery and heroism of a special veteran.
“This is one small way that we can honor the brave men and women who have served selflessly to defend our freedom,” said Mike Harting, CEO of 3 Daughters Brewing. “It’s our chance to say thank you to our military service members who sacrifice so much every day.”
Retired Lt. Col. Bruce Wells Harting earned a Purple Heart after being shot in combat on the morning of April 5, 1966 in Dak To, Vietnam, on the Laotian border while serving with 3rd Platoon, C Company, 7th Calvary, 1st Calvary Division. Read the full story about Bruce Harting at www.3dbrewing.com/myhero.
The design on the first Tango Yankee can was inspired by a drawing created by soldiers Bruce instructed in Officer Candidate School years later. Using only what they had – plywood from the dumpster, Army barracks green paint and pencils for drawing – one of the candidates sketched Bruce being helped off the battlefield by a medic. It is a symbol of the courage and bravery our heroes display every day.
the limited edition My Hero series beer is available in select Winn-Dixie stores throughout Tampa, St Petersburg and Sarasota. 3 Daughters Brewing will also host a special celebration on Veterans Day with music and a food truck.
Veterans Boat Parade
The 19th Veterans Boat Parade, hosted by American Legion Post 273 in Madeira Beach, was Saturday, Nov. 7. The Veterans Boat Parade is a day parade that honors veterans and active service men and women from all branches of the military. This year’s parade honored the Navy.
Post 273 will host a slideshow of the parade, along with a presentation of awards to the skippers who took part, on Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m., in the Main Hall of American Legion Post 273, 600 American Legion Drive, Madeira Beach. For information, visit www.amleg273.com.
History of Veterans Day
World War I ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day and original organizers of celebrations planned a day of parades and public meetings with a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
Congress declared Nov. 11 as Armistice Day with a resolution passed on June 4, 1926. In May 1938, Nov. 11 became a legal holiday known as “Armistice Day” to honor veterans of World War I.
In 1954, after World War II, Congress amended the Act of 1938 and replaced the word “Armistice” and with the word “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” in October 1954.
During the years 1971 to 1977, the nation did not observe the holiday on the 11th day of the 11th month. The holiday was observed on the fourth Monday of October to comply with the Uniforms Holiday Bill passed in 1968, which gave Federal employees three-day weekends on Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day.
In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.