Vets and supporters gather on Marco Island

Lance Shearer

Hundreds of vets and supporters crowded into the sanctuary at Marco Lutheran Church Friday morning for a ceremony honoring the nation’s and Marco Island’s military veterans.

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The gathering, at the traditional “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” a nod to when hostilities ended in World War I, was held once again at the church, due to the threat of Hurricane Nicole, delaying the rededication of the newly refurbished Veterans’ Community Park – although as it turned out, the day was sunny and beautiful. Master of ceremonies Lee Rubenstein, post commander of American Legion Post #404 on Marco Island, introduced speakers including Collier County Undersheriff Jim Bloom, and Carl Steinhoff of Rolling Thunder, who spoke of the importance of not forgetting POW and MIA service members.

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Collier Commissioner Rick LoCastro, a retired Air Force colonel, spoke about the newest branch of the military, the U.S. Space Force. His remarks were uncharacteristically brief, perhaps reflecting the brief existence of the Space Force itself, although he did connect back to Jules Verne and “Star Trek.”

Musical numbers included Emily Savage singing “America the Beautiful,” a visiting singer who bills himself as “Dave Bray USA,” and Craig Greusel performing “Taps” to close the ceremony.