By Tamas Mondovics

Each year, Hillsborough County’s Veterans Day ceremony or Veterans Day Tribute, which honors all active and former U.S. military service members has been known to draw a sizable crowd.

Thanks to a partnership between the Hillsborough County Consumer and Veterans Services and the Veterans Council of Hillsborough County, the county’s 52nd Annual Veterans Day Tribute on Friday, November 11, 2016, was no exception.

With nearly 94,000 veterans, Hillsborough County has the fourth largest population of veterans in Florida.

The event took place at Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr. Museum, 3602 U.S. Highway 301 N. in Tampa, under the theme of “Honoring America’s Veterans,” and saw hundreds of guests, young and old, who have gathered to hear and see a variety of speakers and presentations.

Following the opening welcome address, presentation of the Colors, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance directed by Master of Ceremonies, Walt Raysick with the Hillsborough County Veterans Council, guests were treated to three special exhibition drill performances and patriotic recitations by Hillsborough, Chamberlain, Plant City, Bloomingdale and Riverview High School JROTC cadets.

Presentations included members of the 6th Air Mobility Wing and Riverview High School Navy JROTC Color Guard and Rifle detail as well as the Riverview Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White was on hand for the presentation of the Veterans Day proclamation, during which he said, “I want to thank all of our veterans and families of our veterans who have made the altimate sacrifice.”

Speaking highly of the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, White added, “This Park is a great testimony of our community’s support for all veterans and their families.”

Special guests speakers included retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Waurishuk and U.S. Navy Commander Scott Johnson (CENTCOM), MacDill Air Force Base.

“Tributes such as this one today truly honor our veterans and acknowledge what it means to serve,” Johnson said, adding, “Everyone—no matter what capacity—who has served is responsible for our safety. We owe our appreciation for all veterans.”

As is the case each year, the tribute also included the MIA/POW Missing Man Ceremony, awards by the Veterans Council of Hillsborough County and performances by the Newsome High School Jazz Band. Refreshments were also provided by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8108.

For more information about the 52nd Annual Veterans Day Tribute, or Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, call Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services at 246-3170 or 744-5349, or go to www.HCFLGov.net/Veterans.