This the eleventh day of the eleventh month and at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour... North Central Florida paused to honor America's veterans.
At ceremonies throughout North Central Florida, service members were honored on this Veterans Day. One celebration showed a veteran that he and his comrades are not forgotten.
There are nearly 20,000 veterans in Alachua County and perhaps because of the perfect weather, more of them than ever before chose to attend the Veterans Day Services at Kanapaha Memorial Park.
Colonel Jake Feaster served in the US Army Artillery during the Korean War in 1953 and 1954. He said celebrations like this one are very moving. Feaster said, "Well, it's just a feeling that's hard to explain."
Feaster spent 31 years in active duty and the reserves and has been active in the North Central Florida Veterans community for years. He said events like this are a reminder that veterans aren't forgotten. He said, "Sometimes we say like, uh Korea is a forgotten war and sometimes we think that veterans are forgotten, but on occasions like this, us we get recognized quite vividly."
The event has grown over past years, with hundreds of people attending today. And all eyes were on the skies as four World War II aircraft flew over head, with parachutists from Skydive Palatka dropping one by one.
The last jumper carried the American flag, getting quite a response from the crowd. The kids went up to the stage for the pledge to the flag, followed by the invocation, National Anthem and speeches to honor those who served, especially those who paid the ultimate price.
Director of the Gainesville Veterans Hospital, Tom Cappello spoke, saying every day is "Veterans Day" at the hospital.
The Fort Clarke marching band played patriotic music, the UF Air Force ROTC marched and local veterans associations sponsored booths for people to stop by.
And Jake Feaster said he doesn't take this celebration for granted. He said, "I know that when I go on trips I wear my military cap and I get constantly get people that come up to me and say we appreciate your service and what you did and it makes us feel really good to have that recognition."
With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan producing a new generation of veterans, celebrations like this one promise to grow as the next few years go by.
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- North Central Florida Honors Area Veterans
- Honoring North Central Florida Veterans, Part 2