“I see the first step in a city saying thank you to all the veterans…for the freedomand the righteous things in life we all enjoy.” Jerry concluded his remarks by inviting all the veterans to stand and be recognized. He then asked the audience to stand and join little Sahara Brown in a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Veteran Phil Ballou offered up a fitting prayer referring to the memorial as sacred ground. It was an emotional event, not only in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, but because it took years to get to this point! According to Lee Rubenstein, Commander of VFW Post #6370, it was seven years in the making. “This memorial means so much to me because today we break ground to forever have a tribute to all the military men and women who served our country. The fundraising committee raised $100,000 in 100 days to supplement the funds the city council committed last September.” Lee thanked the various organizations who assisted along the way. “The committee raised enough funds to start the memorial but there is a long way to go. Patriotism is alive and well on Marco Island today.”
Tommie Barfield’s Morning Musicians performed for the audience, led by Golden Apple winner Lisa Braren. Even though the children did not understand the significance of the death of Bin Laden the day before this tribute to our veterans, they sang with enthusiasm and thrilled the audience. Everyone loved their medley of patriotic songs and gave them a standing ovation.
A symbolicground breaking ceremony was presided over by Dr. James Riviere, Bob Sargeant, Larry Magel, Vickie Kelber, Chuck Kiester, Joe Batte, Wayne Waldack, Council Chair Jerry Gibson and Frank Recker. Next, the fundraising committee took a turn with the shovels. Val Simon, Leo Sutera, Lee Rubenstein, VFW Post Commander, Steve Stefanides, Carole Roberts, Jim Lang, Patty Mastronardi and Bryan Milk, from Parks and Rec and Keith Dameron. After the ground breaking Herb Savage led everyone in ‘God Bless America’.
Many veterans, family and friends of those currently serving in the military, the entire City Council, the City Manager, County Commissioner Donna Fiala, members of the Police and Fire Departments were all in attendance. The event was filmed by Bill Hughes of Hughes Productions and can be seen at www.marcoisland-tv.com.