The club orchestrated a series of moving moments to recognize the sacrifice of American veterans.
For the sixth year in a row, the Rotary Club of Longboat Key honored all veterans in the community for Veterans Day on Nov. 11 at Christ Church of Longboat Key. This year there was a special emphasis on thanking and honoring veterans of the Vietnam War.
“We’re here today to honor all in brotherhood and sisterhood of the U.S. military,” said Rotary Club president and event co-chair Nancy Rozance.
After Rozance introduced the event, co-chair Andy Sawyer read a poem entitled “In Your Honor” dedicated to those who have served in the military. The Choral Artists of Sarasota, led by Master Sgt. Joseph Holt, performed the National Anthem while four members of the Riverview High School Junior ROTC presented the colors in the church. Voices rose to join the choir as the anthem was sung.
Retired Brig. Gen. Dr. Dan Wyman with the U.S. Air Force gave a talk about advancements in casualty care, including the rise in survival of battlefield wounds from 80% during World War II to 90% during Afghanistan and Iraq. Damage control on the battlefield is now better than ever and wounded soldiers can be treated soon after injury.
“(The motto is), ‘Leave no man behind’ while a medic’s is, ‘Bring everyone home alive,’ ” Wyman said.
After Wyman’s presentation, retired Brig. Gen. Dr. Stanley Minken, a veteran of the Vietnam War and an Air Force major during the conflict, began the special tribute to Vietnam War era veterans.
“It took a long time for the nation to realize the Vietnam vet was a little different from other veterans upon their return,” Minken said.
For the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate those who were on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, according to The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. That comes in the form of events like this, where veterans from the era are presented with a lapel pin as a memento of the nation’s lasting thanks.
“A grateful nation thanks and honors you,” the back of the pin reads.
There was no pressure for any veteran of the conflict to get up and receive the pin, and for a beat it seemed like no one would. Then one man got up, and another and another. Dr. Minken and Dr. Wyman, along with retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Wuesthoff, presented the pins to those who came to receive them, shaking hands with and saluting their fellow veterans. Some were crying as they received their pins, Rozance noticed.
After the somber and moving moment, the Choral Artists of Sarasota roused the crowd with performances of the songs of the military services. Members of each branch stood and sang along to the tunes and Holt turned and saluted in the midst of his conducting.
Afterward, the line to thank the speakers for their words and service stretched nearly out of the worship hall.