Fallen soldiers, veterans and current military members are center stage at annual parade.
Greenbrook's Ernie Freedman, a Vietnam veteran, couldn't find the words to explain how much he appreciated the community's outpouring of love for veterans during the Tribute to Heroes Parade that had its 10th running Sunday on Lakewood Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.
Freedman, a charter member of Braden River VFW Post 12055, was raising funds for his post in a booth during the parade, but he took time to remember back when he returned from Vietnam.
"The Vietnam veterans were not treated very well," said the 72-year-old Freedman, who was a Navy medic who was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. "When I came back, I had no other clothes to wear so I had to wear my uniform. People would spit on you and call you baby killer.
"This makes you smile. It feels so good."
Veterans of all eras rode in the parade, including 95-year-old World War II veteran Robert Kanter, whose Purple Heart went along for the ride.
The parade was presented by Lakewood Ranch Community Activities.