By Mike Cosentino
There are five soldiers in the background for every soldier on the front lines.
From turning wrenches to cooking food to delivering supplies, and countless other tasks, military success begins and ends with teamwork.
We’re proud here at Siesta Key’s Patriots Pier to honor each and every member of our armed forces for their part in protecting our country and our freedoms.
Our Veterans Day salute to our heroes lacked the fanfare of the more elaborate ceremonies. There was no parade, no band, and no keynote speaker. But what we did have was a crowd of everyday patriotic Americans, just like you and me.
As has become the nightly norm, our attendees included both young and old, residents and tourists and, of course, past and present servicemen and servicewomen. Together, we thanked our veterans for providing the blanket of freedom under which we peacefully sleep at night. We thanked them for sacrificing their personal freedoms to ensure the protection of our own.
A neighbor of mine, Ray Paugh, spoke with infectious pride of his family’s service to our country. Ray, his father and uncles, his five brothers, and his kids have all served in our armed forces. At 85, Ray still helps us fold the flag every night.
Thank you, Ray, for your service.
I spoke about another of Siesta’s gems, Dick Miles. He walks the beach every morning, keeping track of the endangered snowy plovers for the Florida Audubon Society. Dick served in the Army in Vietnam; his job was preparing fallen soldiers for their final trip home.
Like many, he humbly dismisses the significance of his service. Respectfully, Mr. Miles, I disagree with you. You don’t have to carry a gun to be a hero.
In closing, I’d like to invite everyone to join us at Patriots Pier, 10 Beach Rd., where every day is Veterans Day.
Rain or shine, we raise the flag to reveille at 8 a.m., and lower it to taps at sunset.