TAMPA, Fla. — Veterans across the country, state, and Tampa Bay area are all being honored, with tributes and ceremonies thanking them for their service this Veterans Day.
At Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr., Veterans Museum, dozens turned out in tribute to those who served.
Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services and the Veterans Council of Hillsborough County hosted the 57th Annual Veterans Day Tribute Thursday, filled with speeches, singing, and a keynote speaker, Major General James S. Hartsell, the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Find a veteran and tell them thank you,” said Hartsell. “You’ll see them wearing a ball cap. You’ll see them wearing a shirt. You can tell just the way they carry themselves sometimes. It could be in your neighborhood. It could be in your church. It could be in your school. Please find them and tell them thank you. Thank you for what they did so that we can be free today.”
The ceremony saluted all branches and eras of military service. Veterans explained how they share a common bond: a spirit of service and sacrifice.
“It’s everything to us veterans that we’re being recognized for what we’ve done in protecting this fine country,” said Jim Maines, a Marine Corps veteran.
Veterans also shared a message on Thursday of how they want other people to honor the day.
“They ought to do a little research. Even though you haven’t served in the military, you ought to find out a little bit more about what the military has done historically because you’ll gain appreciation if you do that,” said Samuel Taylor, an Army veteran. “The other thing is to just when you see a veteran, tell them thank you. It means more than you might think.”
Also in service to the military community, the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital mobile unit was on site offering free flu shots for veterans only and COVID-19 vaccinations to veterans, their spouses, or caregivers.
People across the Tampa Bay area remind others it’s important to take the time to say thank you to our nation’s heroes today and every day.
“Veterans are the bedrock of our nation, and they make sure that it stands tall for over 200 years, and, god willing, for over 200 years into the far future,” Tommy Reichard, a Marine Corps veteran.