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Veterans Day Observed in Pensacola

Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Day 2019 was celebrated in many different ways and at several venues across Northwest Florida on Monday, including the annual event at Veterans Park in downtown Pensacola.

The annual parade downtown was a bit late getting to the park but once there, a large crowd was on hand to honor those who have worn the nation’s cloth.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to your Veterans Memorial Park; why are we here today? We’re here to celebrate the veterans, right?” said Paul Entrekin, the president of the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.  

“If you were a Coast Guardsman; airman; sailor, Marine, soldier – past or present,” said Entrekin, “please stand and let us recognize you, because today is about you.”

“It’s not the adversity you faced; it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to that,” said retired Marine Col. Scott Walsh, the guest speaker for this year’s ceremony. “And our country has always reacted with honor and courage. We go around and do what’s right.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Col. Scott Walsh USMC (Ret.)

Walsh – whose aviator call sign is “Vapor” – said the men and women of the armed forces were, for the most part, “ordinary people doing extraordinary things” from the dawn of this nation.

“I want to reinforce the fact that we need to be a unified people and a unified country; and everybody here is like that,” Walsh told the crowd. “And we’re a little different here because we’ve done some things that other people haven’t. We fought together, we bled together, we cried together – special. “It’s great coming down to Pensacola to see the patriotism you have in this city.”

There’s a lot of talk these days about “nationalism” and “globalism” says Walsh. He told the gathering that they – with their fellow veterans – are actually the ultimate globalists.

“We’ve gone around the world; we’ve saved more people, rid more people of tyrants, dictators, communism and fascism than any other nation that ever existed. We’re the ultimate globalists here; we’ve been around the world seeing other things that other people have never seen,” Walsh said.

And to those vets sitting in the November sunshine – wearing their old uniforms, insignia, unit patches and other memories of their service – Walsh said their tour of duty is not over.

“You’re the veterans that fought for our country; you’re going to keep fighting for our country,” said Walsh. “We’re going to maintain what we fought for in the past, what we brought to the rest of the world. For that, you can always be proud. And look at the people that supported you today; [the] American people are always appreciative of what we do.”

If Memorial Day is a solemn observance honoring the nation's war dead, Veterans Day is more of a celebration. Those who fell are also honored, to be sure, but so are those who did their duty, lived through the carnage, and came home to raise families, build businesses, and become pillars of their communities -- and to help their nation heal.