By Nick Fazio
Valencia Lakes, a 55+ active adult lifestyle retirement community, dedicated a Veterans Memorial Park ‘Circle of Honor’ on Memorial Day. The community is home to many military veterans. Nick Fazio, president, and Peter Adams, treasurer, co-founded the Valencia Lakes Military Veterans Club, Inc. (VLMVC). Enrollment is open to all residents, not just military veterans.
The idea of the ‘Circle of Honor’ was presented to GL Homes Project Manager/VP, Marisa Lufkin, and they took financial responsibility for the project and worked with the club to erect the first-ever memorial park.
The day started with Ron Gallops (www.gallopsvilletampa.com) “flying through” the streets with his street-legal miniature fighter jet. Residents were pre-warned of the event so no one had any heart issues seeing it blast down the otherwise quiet streets.
Lufkin bestowed ownership of the memorial park to the VLMVC, Inc which was gratefully accepted by Fazio. Next the Color Guard presented and posted the “Colors” along with club membership and residents raising the five service flags with the American flag and POW/MIA. The Valencia Lakes “Singers” lead the over 300 attendees in singing of the National Anthem.
The Department of Army gave special permission to Lieutenant Colonel Sebastian Jolly, Washington, D.C. to travel to Wimauma to give his moving ‘The Meaning of Memorial Day’ speech. LTC Jolly’s father introduced his son as only a father could, while expressing his love and affection for a highly decorated son. Fazio and LTC Jolly then laid a wreath at the entrance to the ‘Circle of Honor’.
Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran helicopter pilot, Captain Adams gave the heartfelt closing remarks. He asked those in attendance who commanded or lost comrades in battle to stand and be recognized adding another moving moment to our fallen heroes.
Valencia Lakes is located at in Wimauma off Hwy. 301 just north of SR 674. For more information, call 800-875-2176 or visit www.glhomes.com/valencia-lakes.