On a beautifully cool Monday, November 11th at 11 AM, Marco Island celebrated Veterans Day with welcoming comments from Lee Rubenstein, Commander of American Legion Post #404.
“We are all here today because of our Veterans,” remarked invited guest Donna Fiala, Collier County Commissioner for District 1.
Commander Lee Rubenstein introduced Marco’s City Manager Mike McNees. McNees stated that this was an unusual spot to be for him and feeling a bit like an impostor. McNees shared that he turned 18 just forty-five days after the last GI left South Vietnam. On behalf of the City of Marco Island, McNees thanked everybody for coming out on this fantastic day to recognize our veterans and “for all the Veterans, we thank you for your service.”
On this Veterans Day, Second Vice Commander of American Legion Post #404 Skip Merriam paid tribute to the Merchant Marines. Since the Revolutionary War in 1775, the Merchant Marines’ role began by interrupting the British supply lines along the Eastern Seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean; the U.S. Merchant Marines predates both the U.S. Coast Guard (1790) and the United States Navy (1797). The Merchant Marines and U. S. Maritime Service have served in all our major conflicts and have suffered extremely high casualty rates. Merriam remarked, “Today, it is our privilege to honor these men and women from the Merchant Marines and Maritime Services.”
Keynote Speaker Rick J. LoCastro, a retired United States Air Force Colonel said, “I’m so proud we have all gathered here today to honor this special day. That our community takes an active part on our nation’s celebration of Veterans Day.” LoCastro continued. “Veterans Day is about celebrating and thanking those who have served, and those who continue to sacrifice and serve, and that veterans are our true heroes and our role models.”
Commander Rubenstein announced that “The Wall that Heals” will be visiting Marco island for its third visit in February and will be here for 5 days. Marco Island is very important as we are the only city in Florida that “The Wall that Heals” will be visiting.
Vocalist Mary Jo O’Regen sang the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America” and “Proud to be an American,” while bugler Greg Gruesel played the traditional Taps to end the Veterans Day celebration at Veterans Community Park.