FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) – Organizers of the Freeport Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony were less than lucky with the weather.
The skies opened up just ahead of the ceremony, but attendees did not let a little rain stop them from honoring our nation’s heroes.
Freeport city officials said in the 12 years of this event, it has only rained once before.
That time was planned for, with organizers setting up tents for the ceremony.
Freeport Mayor Russ Barley said this time was unexpected.
“We were all set up this morning beginning early and then the rain didn’t work with us,” Barley said. “So we had to move everything inside to the chambers but I think everything still went well and we were still able to accomplish what the purpose of the event was.”
The event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Navy veteran William Blanken said that while the crowds are usually a little larger, he was proud to see how many showed up despite the rain.
“They did come out because they understand that veterans sacrifice a lot that… it’s rain,” Blanken said. “Might as well come out and enjoy the ceremonies and just be here for the sentiment and the unity between the town.”
“When a man or woman leaves their family and puts their life on the line for our freedom, I just think that it’s really worth giving back and paying special tribute to them,” said Freeport Veterans Memorial Chair Tim Ard. “We try to do that every day of the year here in Freeport at the veterans memorial but today especially. Today is their day and we are so happy to honor them.”
The ceremony featured a flag presentation by Walton High School’s Air Force JROTC as well as a musical performance by the Freeport Elementary School’s ‘Sophisticats’.
“I am a military family member so this is very important to me,” said volunteer Christine Bacon. “The children like I said once the rain came we were able to go inside they were very respectful when it was a time of silence.”
Freeport received national recognition as this year’s City of the Year by veterans’ group 40/8 for its veterans’ park.