Residents and tourists alike lined the streets of Coral Bay to cheer on a small parade of big importance on Wednesday morning, November 11.
As the country marked the 90th observance of Veteran’s Day on November 11, St. John hosted its own parade to honor the millions of men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice and serve in the U.S. armed forces.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members led the parade, followed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, American Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post #131 and Auxiliary and local AARP members. Senator at Large Craig Barshinger and two trucks from the Coral Bay Fire Station rounded out the parade.
As the marchers got ready to start, a red U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead, setting the perfect tone for the festivities.
Donning a USCG Auxiliary uniform, St. John Administrator Leona Smith also took part in the parade.
“I came out to honor the men and women in our uniform who served our country in the past, who are serving now and who will serve in the future,” said Smith. “I’m here to say ‘Thank you for keeping us safe at home and abroad.’”
After starting in front of Aqua Bistro along the waterfront in Coral Bay, participants marched around the corner to the Department of Agriculture Station on King Hill Road.
Following the parade, about 75 people gathered under the trees at the Ag Station — the new headquarters of American Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post #131 — for a short, but solemn ceremony.
“We are here to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the silencing of the guns that ended World War II,” said Post #131 past commander Dr. William Henderson. “Each year, Veteran’s Day gives all of us an opportunity to thank those among us who served or are serving in the U.S. military. On this day we remember the tremendous sacrifice made by these men and women.”
The freedoms enjoyed by Americans come at a cost, Henderson explained.
“Freedom does not come free,” said Henderson. “There is a price to pay for our freedom. We’re here to pay respect and say thanks to the millions of Americans who have answered their call of duty to protect our freedoms every day.”
Veteran’s Day is the perfect time to renew a commitment to remember the men and women who lay their lives on the line for their country, Henderson added.
“We thank all generations of veterans who fought for our freedom and those who serve now,” said Henderson. “We thank the families of our veterans who are not recognized well enough for the hardships they endure. We take this time to renew our commitment to never forget their sacrifice or belittle their efforts.”
Post #131 Commander Jerry Runyon read Governor John deJongh’s Veteran’s Day pronouncement. Post #131 Adjutant Corine Matthias led the crowd in a rendition of “God Bless America” before post Chaplain Roy Joseph offered a closing prayer.
The crowd enjoyed snacks and refreshments after the ceremony at the Agriculture Station, where officials hosted the First St. John Mini Ag Fair.