Bill Kelley led Sarasota event in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Before the luminaries could be introduced and before the guest of honor could be recognized, former longtime Longboat Key resident Bill Kelley had a job to do.
At Friday night's Statesman of the Year banquet, held by the Republican Party of Sarasota County and attended by hundreds, Kelley led the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The World War II veteran and survivor of D-Day at Omaha Beach sat next to the Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the night's recipient of the Statesman of the Year award. Also at their table was Longboater Jack Brill, the acting chair of the Sarasota GOP.
Nearby sat Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, a previous winner of the award, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key, Joe Gruters of Sarasota, the chair of the Florida Republican Party, and many local public officials.
In accepting the award, Graham told the crowd the Democrats in Congress were misusing their authority in proceeding with impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump.
Kelley, 94, served as a 19-year-old corpsman aboard a U.S. Navy LST on June 6, 1944.