Jim Elson, Naples
Chairman, Collier Veterans Council
Captain, U.S. Army (Ret.)
With more than 1 million Americans having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a new generation of patriots has emerged.
In the words of the President John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Veterans of military service certainly heard those words and took them to heart.
The large number of veterans who live and work in our community is amazing.
Veterans Day is set aside so that the ideals and dedication of these true patriots may be recognized, with a sincere "thank you'' for their years of service to our country.
The values declared 237 years ago still stand; let us celebrate our Veterans on this special day with true vigor.
This year our Naples ceremony, starting at 10 a.m. Sunday at Cambier Park, honors the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War. Historic facts and personal experiences will be shared.
Keynote speaker 1st Lt. Wayne Smith, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), will relate his 5½ years of captivity in North Vietnam's Hoa Lo Prison (The Hanoi Hilton) after his F-4 Phantom Jet was shot down in 1968.
The prisoners of war struggled to maintain their daily existence through love of country, belief in purpose and their own inner strength. The men and women who defend our country in our all-volunteer military forces maintain courage and fortitude that reflects the character and temperament equal to those citizens who took up arms in 1775 to break away from England to create the United States of America.
The Collier County Veterans Council, comprised of all volunteers, has been promoting veterans and peace throughout Southwest Florida for more than 36 years, and invites you to attend and pay honor to those who have served us so well.