Veterans Day in Pensacola encompassed a colorful parade of bands, marching units, cars both antique and new and a fun filled celebration at the Veterans Memorial Park. Sherriff David Morgan formerly opened the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation Veterans Day Observance event with a solo of the national anthem. He was followed by Mayor Ashton Hayward who reminding the crowd of veterans, their families and friends of Pensacola’s lengthy relationship with the military and thanked those who have served in the armed services. County Commission Lumon May brought greeting from the County Commission, also, thanking veterans for their service.
The Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council served as host for the parade which assembled at the Pensacola City Hall on Main Street and snaked its way on the winding road that turned into Bayfront Parkway. The participants represented veteran service organizations (VSOs), women military veterans organizations, marching bands, and uniformed marching units. Once the parade reached the Veterans Memorial Park a band playing popular music performed on a Magic 106 FM stage surrounded by tents of veteran service organizations providing food, displays, information, including the local Veteran Administration Clinic giving flu vaccine shots.
Mr. Breaury Gant, 92, told the Pensacola Voice that Veterans Day means a lot to him and that he is glad he lived to be in another parade. He told his story of military service in the Army in North Africa, Burma, and Europe during World War II. His proud son, Attorney Fred Gant, assisted his father dutifully as he sometimes needed help walking.
The guest speaker was retired Navy Captain Lee Hansen. She shared her proud liniage of being a daughter, wife, sister, mother and mother-in-law of veterans. She gave an interesting presentation which compared the service veterans to other professional careers stating, “It’s the veteran, not the minister, that gave us freedom of religion. It’s the veteran, not the reporter, that gives us freedom of the press. It’s the veteran, not the poet, that gives us freedom of speech, the veteran, not the campus organizer, that has given us the right to protest. It is the veteran, not the lawyer, that has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, that has given us the right to vote!” Hansen said. She closed with a heartfelt expression of gratitude, “I thank all veterans for making and keeping this the land of the free and the home of the brave!”