Area veterans honored at Eco Park tribute
As our nation pays tribute to those who served our nation, there will be parades, free luncheons and other events to honor them.
Unfortunately, there are many who aren’t able to take part because they are in assisted living facilities and often times cannot get through crowds or are too sick or frail.
Nurse On Call, Home Health, an in-home therapy and nursing agency, paid tribute to this segment that is often forgotten by holding and sponsoring a barbecue for them at Echo Park on Wednesday near the Iwo Jima statue.
Numerous assisted-living facilities bused in veterans so they could enjoy their own luncheon honoring them.
Jamie Seneca, public relations director for Nurses On Call, said it’s an event the company does all over, including for the third time in Cape Coral.
“We work with the local facilities, and many of them are forgotten during any public awareness holiday,” Seneca said. “They can’t get out to much so we’re bringing Veterans Day to them.”
Seneca said that when the idea was first executed by her at the beginning of her career, they would bring the celebration to them.
“I saw it was a need that wasn’t met. It used to be brought to the facilities, but more of them wanted it and it was becoming harder to bring it to them, so we did one event and brought them to us,” Seneca said.
Several buses full of veterans rode in, carrying about 30 or so veterans, mostly from World War II and Korea, with a few Vietnam vets thrown in.
Some were wheelchair bound or walkers in need of assistance getting off the bus, and many of their caregivers were on hand to make sure they stayed safe, which they did.
Participants were able to enjoy burgers, dogs, salads and drinks, the Guns N’ Hoses Pipe and Drum Corps, the Honor Guard and other Veterans Day activities, as well as meet fellow veterans with whom they shared their stories.
Among them was Frank Krotzer, a Navy veteran during the Korean War, who was happy to get out for an hour or so to share lunch with friends.
“I’m impressed with anything that honors veterans because without them we don’t have anything,” Krotzer said. “Just because I’m a veteran doesn’t mean I don’t feel pride. I do. I have a kinship with these people.”
At the table with him were fellow veterans from his retirement home, where they tell the same stories.
One of them, who asked to only be called Billy, served on the aircraft carrier Ranger during World War II. He said to get together with all his friends for this occasion was wonderful.
“We’re all lucky to be here. I’m 92 and still going,” Billy said. “They didn’t used to do anything for us, now they are.”
Joe McMahon, a member of the Pipe and Drum Corps, was honored to be included in the festivities.
“It’s a big honor for us to come out and remember the folks that are here today as well as those who aren’t,” McMahon said. “We celebrate people who 60, 70 years ago put it on the line to protect our country and freedom. The least we can do is give them their day.”
“It’s the best generation that ever lived and we do it every year, they get emotional and they love it,” Seneca said.
It was the first of two big events at the park.
On Sunday, the Iraq War Monument will be unveiled in a big ceremony at 1 p.m., which will feature many of the city’s dignitaries, as well as the singing of “God Bless America” from Mickey Thomas from Starship.