Responses from around the county
In 1954 Congress passed a bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. The Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson reached out to individuals around the county asking, “What does Veterans Day mean to you?”
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In 1954 Congress passed a bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. On Saturday, November 11, 2023, we will recognize and honor all Veterans in various ways, through ceremonies, parades, etc. I wanted to do something a little different. I contacted several individuals from around the Space Coast to find out what Veterans Day means to them.
With over 70,000 Veterans on the Space Coast, I obviously could not contact them all! But I have a feeling the thoughts shared by those responding resonate with most all of us.
Melvin Morris, US Army Veteran, Recipient of the Medal of Honor
“Veterans Day for me is a day of remembrance of the fallen that sacrificed their lives for our nation and for our freedoms. This day is a sacred day for me, and I hope it is the same for everyone.”
U.S. Congressman Bill Posey, Florida’s 8th Congressional District
“Feelings of deep gratitude to the men and women who have worn the uniform of our armed services. Thankful to them and their families for the sacrifices they made so we can enjoy the freedom, too often taken for granted, we all enjoy today.”
COL Danny R. McKnight, US Army (Ret)
“To our great nation, thank you for the freedoms we enjoy. One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Let it never be forgotten that…….It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag.”
Palm Bay Mayor Rob Medina, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
“For me Veterans Day is a time for all Americans to pause and reflect for the sacrifices made by the Veterans of our beloved Armed Forces! Let’s honor them! Allow me to encourage you to take the time to Thank a Veteran! Thank them for the sacrifices they and their families endured in serving our nation! Thank you for our Freedom! May God continue to bless you all and our nation.”
Dorothy Walsh, Their Voice of Hope, Inc., President/Veteran Advocate
“I tell everyone, I didn’t serve in the military, but I have been serving the military since 2008. Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor and remember all those who sacrificed so much for me and my family to live as free Americans in the greatest country in the world. Growing up my dad instilled in us the love and respect of God, Country, the American flag, and veterans. Growing up, every Veterans Day we would march down 5th Avenue in Manhattan, and it was so awesome to see so many veterans who appreciated that so many people came out to honor them. Every day should be Veterans Day where we honor and appreciate these heroes.”
CPT Donn Weaver, US Army, former
“Three major feelings come to me on Veterans Day every year. First, thanks to our country for making it official. Second, it is a means to remind all Americans what veterans have done to create and sustain this great country — without veterans, there is no America. Finally, it provides the opportunity for parents, grandparents, and leaders to teach our youth about veterans and the need to have a strong military. Among them will have to come the next generation of military volunteers. That is crucial when our military recruitment goals in all branches are not currently being met.”
Dr. Terry Spain, USN (Ret), Terry Spain Consulting
“As a 21-year Navy veteran, Veterans Day holds a profound and deeply personal meaning for me. It represents not only a day of remembrance and gratitude but a reflection of the unwavering commitment, sacrifices, and sense of duty that have defined my life in the military. Veterans Day is a reminder that the freedoms we cherish come at a cost, and I am immensely proud to have played a part in upholding those values. It’s a day to honor the legacy of service, the bonds formed, and the enduring spirit that unites veterans like me in our shared dedication to our great country.”
Garren Cone, President, AVET Project
“Veterans Day is a time to honor all those who have served our great Nation in the U.S. military. God has blessed our country with brave men and women who have, are, and will be ready to lay down their lives to keep these United States free, with liberty and justice for all.”
CAPT John W. Craig, USN (Ret) and Carol Craig, former Naval Flight Officer
“Today we celebrate each and every American who has raised their right hand and took the oath to protect this nation at all costs. Veterans Day is a celebration for Carol and I. We rejoice in the memories of those we served with over 40 years of combined service and for those who now serve at the tip of the spear – ensuring the freedoms we enjoy as Americans continue for generations. We are grateful for every single Veteran. They are our brothers and sisters in arms, serving others for a greater purpose than self. Thank you Vets!!”
Johnny Danger-Live, Entertainer
“Veterans Day is more important to me than any other date on the calendar. Without the existence of these extraordinary individuals, where would we be? It is with great humility that I salute all our brave men and women on Veterans Day, without them, there would be no days at all.”
Mike Haridopolos, President, MJH Consulting
“A day to remember the millions of veterans who served in our military so we can live in freedom. We are grateful for their sacrifice and honor their service. Both my Father and Grandfather both served in our military and now our son Hayden serves as well. Let us all come together to pray for and honor those who have kept our nation free.”
Sarah Brennan, CDR USCG MSU PT CANAVERAL (USA)
“On Veterans’ Day we honor all those who have sacrificed for love of our great country. I am honored to walk among them and only hope to carry their legacy through my own service. I know for those of us in the Coast Guard, we remain Semper Paratus and aim to keep our nation safe every day.”
Lisa Nicholas, Business Development Manager, Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority
“It takes a very special person to put their own life in harm’s way to protect the lives of people they don’t even know. But safeguarding our way of life, our rights, and our freedoms is commonplace for these brave heroes. Veterans Day is a solemn occasion, but it reaches far beyond important to take a moment and honor and memorialize these amazingly special people. Throughout the years, so many have made the ultimate sacrifice, and so many still continue to fight. For us. For people they don’t even know. We owe them the utmost gratitude – on Veterans Day and every day.”
Doug Monda, Founder, Survive First
“Veteran’s Day holds deep significance for me as a law enforcement officer because it’s a day to honor the sacrifices made by our brave veterans, many of whom have transitioned to careers in law enforcement after their military service. The shared values of dedication, service, and a commitment to upholding freedom and safety resonate deeply with the mission we uphold daily. This day serves as a reminder of the resilience and unwavering dedication to duty displayed by both our nation’s veterans and our law enforcement community.”
Ted Suzor, US Army, Chairman, Brevard Veterans Center, and Veterans Coordinator, Space Coast Honor Flight
“I look at all the Freedom we have, and it’s all due to a Veteran. From the very first shot for freedom, until now, it’s been done by men and woman who believe in this fine country of ours.
It is a time to bow our heads and thank them all for everything they have done.”
Courtney H. Barker, City Manager, City of Satellite Beach
“As a daughter of a two tour Vietnam pararescue man with a 30-year career in the USAF, Veterans Day holds a special place in our family’s hearts. Veterans sacrifice so much for us, not only their time serving, but oftentimes their physical or mental health as well. We owe them so much respect and honor.”
PK Cannon, Master Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)
“Veterans Day is a time to reflect upon the huge sacrifices of those who’ve served or are serving in our illustrious armed forces. It’s been an honor to hold the title United States Marine over the past 30 years. I’m humbled to be a servant leader and veteran. I would be remiss if I didn’t include the families of veterans who steadfastly support them while deployed to dangerous terrain, both near and far.”
Wendy Albrecht Kembel, USAF (Ret)
“For me Veteran’s Day means that it is time for me to pause and reflect upon all of the service men and women through the years who stepped up to write a blank check to the United States, up to the cost of their lives. It is a time that I pause to thank them for choosing to serve to protect and defend the United States of America and the freedom and privileges that go hand in hand with living in this country. It is a day that I pause to feel grateful to those who did give their lives, along with those who sacrificed in other ways and, thankfully, are still with us now. To all who served our country, I salute you.”
Lorena Dugan, USN (Ret), Space Coast Honor Flight, Board of Directors
“In a nutshell, a Veteran believes in service. The service doesn’t stop because one leaves the military. In our home service was required. My mother served the community until the day she died. She encouraged our service to our country first, we all served, our fathers and grandfathers served. Serving in the US Navy doesn’t stop there. While in the military I served, Recreation committee, PTA Mom, Girl Scout leader, home room mom….. just like my Mother did. Happy to say that our daughter serves in the same way Veterinarian, Mom, school volunteer, sports volunteer….”
Giles Malone, Partner, Space Coast Daily
“We will never forget those who have served.”
Samantha Senger, City of Cocoa, Director of Communications and Economic Development
“Veteran’s Day is a day to honor the incredible sacrifice and unwavering dedication of our veterans. It is a reminder of the gratitude we owe to those who have served, an opportunity to honor their courage, and it symbolizes our commitment to supporting and remembering their contributions to our country.”
Ted Kimmey, US Army Veteran, Athletic Director, Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School
“Veteran’s Day is a time to reflect – on the sacrifices of heroes past, those currently serving and those who will serve in the future. It’s a time to appreciate the freedoms we own now that we owe to those who paid the ultimate price. As a Veteran myself – it’s a day that fills me with pride – proud to live in the greatest country on planet Earth! Salute to all of our Veterans – thank you for your sacrifice & service!”
Crystal Turman, USAF Veteran, Chair, Women Veterans Committee with the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center.
“This past weekend, we were called upon to stand and be acknowledge if we were
veterans. In that moment, I felt the weight of responsibility to remind the younger generations that the freedoms we enjoy are a direct result of men and women willingly relinquishing their own freedoms, even being prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country and all its citizens. I like to reflect on the honor my country allowed me to serve.”
Lance Armstrong, DC, PAC-F, USAF, President, Rolling Thunder Florida 1
“I am no hero. Yes, I was a USAF Captain, B-52G Flight Instructor who had missions at 400 knots, at 400 feet, loaded with 51 1,000 bombs, aimed at rusty bread trucks and 18 wheelers in a training target in Arizona or Utah during the Cold War. In comparison, those service members who fought in the jungles of Vietnam, or door-to-door in Iraq and Afghanistan are your real military heroes, in my opinion. Veterans Day recognizes all alive service members who served, yet some like me stand in the back row, saluting on this day those who served in these “boots on the ground, face to face” conditions. Respect for Veterans has this day. However, I find in this great country and county we are appreciated every day.”
LTC (Ret) Tim Thomas, Senior Army Instructor, Viera High School
“Veterans Day reminds me of those who have worn the uniform and served our country to ensure we are always “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. It’s because of their sacrifice to serve, we enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we take for granted every day. For me it’s a day of reflection and thanksgiving for all our Veterans.”
Dana Blickley, Brevard County Property Appraiser and National Veterans Homeless Support
“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, of the year 1918, our great Country celebrated the end of World War I, now recognized world-wide as Veterans Day. On this day each year, America formally honors its Veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and selfless service and sacrifice for the common good. Many of us recognize that Veterans Day is celebrated every day. Because every day, men and women we will likely never know, ever meet, or even speak to………..serve, so selflessly, so we may enjoy our most precious freedoms of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. They serve to protect our speech for which they may not agree, our religion for which they may not practice, and our right to live as the freest people in the world. To those that have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their all, to those that have honorably served, and to those who may choose to do so, THANK YOU. We are forever grateful.”
Don Pearsall, US Army Veteran, Founder/Owner Veteran Connections
“Veterans Day is a day for me to honor and show respect for the Brothers and Sisters I valiantly served with throughout my time defending this great nation. Never in my life have I ever been so blessed to stand side by side with some of the greatest people I have ever known. I’m not a hero, but I certainly served with them.”
Steve Crisafulli, Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
“Veterans Day for the Crisafulli Family is a day that we thank and honor those that served in our countries military branches to protect and defend the many freedoms that we as Americans take advantage of each and every day, living under the flag of the greatest country in the world. All too often we as Americans take for granted those freedoms but it’s because of these individuals that we enjoy them without fear of punishment from our government.”
Mark Schollmeyer, Former Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief
“I am thankful each and every day for the sacrifices, courage and valor our veterans have shown in the past, in the present and into the future. We take for granted our freedoms, not realizing they come on the backs of our military veterans. Regretfully, I never served our country in the military, but I never forget those who have, not only on Veterans Day, but every day.”
Tom Palermo, President and Publisher, Space Coast Daily
Given the dangerous times we live in, I think this John F. Kennedy quote sums it up best: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Vanessa Dance, MD, US Army Major (1993-2004)
“As a physician in the Army, I had the opportunity to serve my country during peace time and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For me, Veteran’s Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by all those who have served in the military, and to honor their commitment to our nation.
“As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, let us remember the bravery and dedication of those who have fought to protect our freedoms, and to express our gratitude for their service. I hope that Americans will always strive to support and care for our veterans in every way possible.”
Shawn Sima, USAF (Ret), Who We Play For
“Serving in the US Military for 20 years was an honor and a privilege. The Air Force was the key that unlocked the door to my entire life. Yes, I served my country but mostly, my country also served me. From making friends for a lifetime, the discipline I learned, the “I can do it” attitude, multiple college degrees, medical training, and the honor to take care of the war injured, the vets, and their families-God blessed me with one of the greatest decisions I ever made. My service allowed a kid that came from nothing to achieve his dreams. I am forever honored and thankful to have served my country.”
Thomas Highsmith, USAF Veteran
“What Veterans Day means to me is that it was such an honor and privilege to serve in the world’s greatest Air Force. We got an awesome chance to continue to follow in the footsteps of those before us and continue to protect the freedoms and right of our American people.”
Aaron Collins, Director/Conductor Space Coast Symphony Orchestra
“Veterans Day is a reminder not only that this day is dedicated to honor the sacrifices of so many brave men and women, but also to remember all those that have willingly given so much and still give so much each day. It is also a reminder for me to recognize the sacrifices our service members have made by taking part in something much bigger than themselves. No other commitment is as valuable to our country.
“This day also represents a chance to educate ourselves on the challenges facing many veterans, and how we can ensure these individuals have the best possible chance of thriving after their service. I am deeply grateful for their continued service every day.”
Brian R. Whalen, Lt Col, USAF (Ret), MOAACC President
“When I think of Veterans Day I think about my Grandfather and his friends who served with him in WWI. I also think of England and Canada. I had the opportunity to be in stationed in Canada and I remember being allowed to wear a poppy on my uniform cap on Remembrance Day along with all the Canadian Forces I worked with. We were traveling through Stansted Airport one year on 11/11 and they sounded a notification at 1100 and everything in the terminal stopped and was quiet. Very moving tradition.”
Melissa Parker, Mrs. Universe TCP 2024, Co-Founder, Parker Foundation for Autism and Child Development
“I am honored to have had many family members that have served in the US Military over the years. My love, loyalty and honor to our great nation runs deep because of this. To my family, and to all the men and women that have served to keep our beautiful nation the land of the free and the home of the brave, we thank you.”
Message from Read Admiral Wayne Justice, USCG (RET)
“In speaking at the Cocoa Beach High School JROTC, I talked about the Coast Guard having announced that there is a 10% short of the number of enlisted people needed this year to do the missions. Thus, it announced a 10% cut in operations, which means getting rid of cutters, small boats, and operating stations. The volunteer to serve numbers are way down for all the services.
“So… In addition to the annual “gather, remember, and thanks” that goes to the Vets, I turned around and challenged the Vets for all of us to get even more engaged in recruiting. I then eulogized the Brevard County JROTC programs (that MOAACC Good Deeds Foundation subsidizes) as one of the Nation’s best (they are) that they continue to do an incredible job of motivating our high schoolers to serve.”
Burt Clark, Principal, Rockledge High School
“Veterans Day is a time to express gratitude and show appreciation to the men and women who have served in the military. It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to their sacrifices, commitment, and dedication to defending our freedom. It also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families and to acknowledge the physical, emotional, and mental toll that military service can take on individuals.
“Veterans Day also provides an opportunity to celebrate the freedoms and liberties that the United States enjoys. Veterans have played a vital role in preserving these rights, and this holiday is a way to commemorate their contributions. Veterans Day can also serve as a stark reminder about the everyday challenges faced by veterans, including issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, healthcare, and employment opportunities and the need for our local, state, and federal government to take action to support our Veterans.
“Ultimately, what Veterans Day means to you is personal. It can be a day of reflection, gratitude, patriotism, or community involvement but no matter what it is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of our veterans and to remember the importance of their service in preserving our nation’s freedoms and values.”
Maurice Morris, US Army, Son of Medal of Honor Recipient, Melvin Morris
“When I think of Veterans Day, I am inspired by the man and woman who gave everything to make a difference in the lives of others and to protect the integrity of our nation, to defend the rights of others. I think of what made me want to join the Army and serve my Country. I think about how proud I was to wear the uniform that stood for freedom, I felt like I was on the most important team that one could ever want to be a part of.
“I think about my father who by his actions showed me what a true hero is. I am thankful for the courage he had to defend his fellow soldiers and the mission no matter what the cost was to have been severely wounded, to taking out several enemy locations to retrieve a fallen soldier. By his actions I said I want to be on a team like that, a team that will have my six and will never leave me behind. I am proud of my Father Melvin Morris a Medal of Honor recipient, and I am proud to have served in the Military of the United States of America.”
Steve Wilson, Friday Night Locker Room
What does Veterans Day mean to me? I don’t know if I can describe my feelings as eloquently as those that responded to my inquiry, but I will try. I have the utmost respect for those that serve. Veterans are heroes, a word overused and often improperly used. Webster Dictionary describes a hero as, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage.” My dad served in the U.S. Navy during WWII; he was my hero.
Everyone that has ever worn a military uniform is my hero. Thank you does not seem to be sufficient, but, it is from the bottom of my heart that I say….THANK YOU, VETERANS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Wilson was born in DeRidder, Louisiana and grew up in both New Orleans and Macon, Georgia. He moved to Brevard County in 1984 and retired from local government as the Community Advocate/Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Rockledge in 2018.
Among the awards and accolades Steve has received over the years are 15 + year Rockledge Little League volunteer, Brevard Public School Jefferson Award Recipient, Rockledge High School Raider Booster Award 2001, 2006, City of Rockledge Employee of the Year 2006, Rockledge Kiwanian of the Year 2006-2007, City of Rockledge Quality Public Service Award 2008, 2012, 2017, Rockledge Kiwanis Citizen of the Year 2012-2013, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Sportscasting 2015, Rockledge High School Leadership and Service Award 2016, Central Florida Humanitarian Award 2017, Space Coast Inspiration Award – 2018, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement – 2020 and Ecofest Achievement Award – 2022.
Wilson is especially proud of is chairing two fundraisers in support of pediatric cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in honor of Merritt Island resident Julie Spurlock that raised over $25,000.00.
He has been a partner, along with Orville Susong, for the past 24 years with the Friday Night Locker Room, a broadcasting team that covers and reports on a wide variety of local events that are of significance to the residents of the Space Coast and beyond. Their mission is to promote youth sports, support first responders and law enforcement personnel, and showcase community and charitable events that are produced by our nonprofit partners in central Florida.
The Friday Night Locker Room has awarded hundreds of sports achievement plaques to Brevard County student-athletes over the years. They have also awarded more than $18,000 in academic scholarships to Brevard County high school seniors.
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