On Saturday, September 28, the 3rd Annual Clay County Veterans Appreciation Day event wasn’t just another pomp and circumstance affair. Not only was there an awesome flyover, there was a moment when many of us were startled despite being warned ahead of time. That happened when the cannon was fired. The volume of the thundering sound most definitely had an impact . I could only imagine what it would sound like if I was a soldier on a battlefield of yesteryear.
We’d arrived early, and as we walked across a big grassy lot to get to the stage area at Moosehaven, I could hear one of my favorite musical sounds—bagpipes. The First Coast Highlanders, in full Scots costume, set a welcoming tone.
The day’s festivities included the presentation of Winton Wright Carter Day, in honor of Mr. Carter who was about to celebrate his 100th birthday. Carter is a veteran of World War II. A Purple Heart recipient, Mr. Carter served his country and his community in ways many of us cannot.
The community turnout was excellent, and exhibits with resources for veterans were numerous. The sun was very bright, so when I took multiple pictures of the flyover by the Dreamland Squadron, I couldn’t see my screen clearly. I got lucky on that. The flyover was a real showstopper. I didn’t get video, but thanks to City of Green Cove Springs Network Administrator Angel Alicea who did get video at a May, 2019 event, you can see what that looked like.
After Clay County commissioner Mike Cella welcomed everyone officially, members of the Florida Youth Challenge Academy presented the colors. This brought back memories of a luncheon I attended in South Carolina as part of the Medal of Honor convention events hosted by that state. The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy presented colors at that event. The Challenge academies are one of my favorite programs for youth.
Music for the morning was provided by my daughters’ duo The Crazy Daysies and the headliner band for the afternoon was Total Strangers Band. The Sahara Silk Dance Ensemble performed, and so did the Navy Band Southeast.
Officials who participated, in addition to Cella, included Clay County commissioner Diane Hutchings, Orange Park mayor Connie Thomas, Chris Chambless the county supervisor of elections, Clay County commissioners Gavin Rollins and Wayne Bolla. Guest speaker Michael Conner, commanding officer at NAS Jacksonville, delivered an address, and Clay County manager Howard Wanamaker did the kick off. Joy Purdy, with WJXT TV, introduced Mr. Carter who was accompanied by two young sailors. Just about everyone there thanked them all for their service.
I also spotted the mascot for our hockey team, the Jacksonville Icemen, strolling around and greeting people. There were multiple food trucks for the hungry folks.
All in all, the event was extremely well done, a fitting tribute not only to the 30,000+ military who make their homes in Clay County, but to all veterans, including those like my husband who served in an era when you were drafted instead of having the option to volunteer.
We weren’t able to stay for the whole day. Rebecca and her husband Joshua were moving, and the move was unanticipated, so the weekend do-list still had lots of items that needed to be done. Rebecca had a show on Sunday too, so she definitely had to scramble and make good use of Saturday.
A hat tip to all who planned and implemented the 3rd Annual Clay County Veterans Appreciation event. I think all the veterans and their families appreciated it. I know I did.
(Kay B. Day/Oct. 1, 2019)