LAKEWOOD RANCH — Acclaimed composer and pianist Robert Moffa doesn’t have to be told when to celebrate his country’s heroes. He works on thanking them every day.
“We have a lot of veterans,” said Moffa, founder of the American Ideals Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserve the American ideals through the arts and to honor veterans and the families of fallen military heroes. “Why shouldn’t we recognize them as often as we can?”
Moffa’s organization, along with Neal Communities, Cityscapes International Realty Group and Excel Mortgage, will host a Veterans Honor Ceremony at 1 p.m., March 12, at Central Park, 12145 Forest Park Circle, in Lakewood Ranch.
Festivities will begin at noon with food, live music by the Peace Seekers, displays and VA benefit and home information.
The hour-long ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. with a presentation of the flag and gun salute, multiple color guard units and the honoring of Veterans American Legion Post 24, the second largest post in the Sarasota-Manatee District 8, for its contributions to veterans in the community, and more.
“It’s truly a community effort,” Moffa said.
A key component of the ceremony also will be the signing of a U.S. Armed Forces Community Covenant, an initiative of the U.S. Army to foster and sustain state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families, regardless of what military branch they serve.
“It’s everybody doing their part, not just on Veterans Day, but (on this day),” Moffa said of the signing. “It’s a community commitment saying we honor and recognize our veterans. We want to get as many people as we can to sign it.”
The ceremony also will honor Maj. Ray O’Connell, who died recently. O’Connell is the former president of the Military Officers Association of Sarasota and also had 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Moffa said.
As part of the festivities, American Ideals Foundation volunteer Ken Smith also is organizing a nearly 100-mile motorcycle ride, which will end at Central Park. Riders will leave between 8:30 and 10 a.m. from American Legion Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., Bradenton, and navigate a poker run from Bradenton to Venice and throughout the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Cost is $10 plus a canned food item or $15 with no food item, and includes lunch at the ceremony, Smith said.
Proceeds from the ride will benefit the American Ideals Foundation’s Military Heroes Project, which honors fallen military heroes and their families.
Through the American Ideals Foundation, Moffa has organized ceremonies such as Saturday’s event throughout the country. Most recently, the organization conducted a ceremony at the Veterans Village at Cypress Ponds in Ellenton in January.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
VETERANS HONOR CEREMONY
WHEN: 1 p.m., March 12
WHERE: Central Park, 12145 Forest Park Circle
INFO: Bob Moffa, (813) 416-8456
RIDE FOR VETERANS
WHEN: Starts 8:30 a.m., March 12
WHERE: Departs from American Legion Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., Bradenton
COST: $10 plus canned good or $15 (if no can)
DETAILS: Poker run starts in Bradenton and winds 100 miles throughout the Sarasota-Bradenton area, ending at Central Park in Lakewood Ranch, where the Veterans Honor Ceremony will be held.
INFORMATION: Ken Smith, (330) 671-9326