With Tribute to Heroes Parade having been cancelled, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities hosts a virtual event.
It was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and Keith Pandeloglou was sweating.
Not because the Lakewood Ranch Community Activities director was worried about putting together a virtual event to honor veterans after COVID-19 wiped out the annual Tribute to Heroes Parade that would have been May 24.
In 90-degree weather, he was dressed in a suit and tie as he prerecorded a ceremony at the Sarasota National Cemetery to air during the virtual event that is scheduled today on Memorial Day.
He had volunteered to place a flag on the 205 graves of Lakewood Ranch residents buried at Sarasota National Cemetery, but that request was turned down during the pandemic. Although he intended to do it himself, the decision was made to keep groups from being at the cemetery.
Once the ceremony was recorded, he hurried back to Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, where he was putting out posters that included the names of all those 205 veterans. He also placed a flag for each veteran at Main Street.
"We were thinking about ways we could still honor them," Pandeloglou said. "We decided to do a flag for each one."
At 3 p.m. today, residents are asked to stand in their front yard to join in the National Moment of Remembrance. Those who participate are asked to spend one minute to remember those who have died in military service to the U.S.
Immediately following the event, a virtual event will begin at Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Facebook page (facebook.com/LWRCommunityActivities/). The National Anthem and the Pledge of Alliance will precede a tribute to our fallen heroes and veterans.
Residents were asked to send photos and videos in honor of veterans or fallen heroes. They could submit a hero nomination of a friend, family member or community member they wanted recognized. For every submission, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities made a donation to VFW Post 12055. Pandeloglou said the hope was to raise enough that VFW Post 12055 could award two $1,000 scholarships to area seniors.who participate in the Lakewood Ranch High Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Anyone who would like to contribute directly can do so at mylwr.com/207/Sponsor and scroll to the donate button.