Hospital Holds Annual Veterans Day Parade

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital honored veterans Nov. 11 in their ninth annual Veterans Day Parade. More than 1800 participants and 300 volunteers were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

Bruce Waters, U.S. Air Force veteran, learned many life lessons during his service and credits the military for helping him become the man he is today.

“Of all the things that can happen to you in the service, it makes a man out of you or a lady out of you, if you are a woman,” Waters said. “It teaches you responsibility.”

Retired veteran Connie White served in the Air Force for 20 years. She is now a member of the Military Women Across the Nation who walked the parade.

“I took that oath to protect my country, to guide my country in all enemies, foreign and domestic and that oath never ends,” White said. “It is always there.”

Rhonda Crawford grew up in a military family and says although it can be a challenging career, she encourages young women to join the service.

“Go for it—I enjoyed my experience so much,” Crawford said. “It makes you grow as a person that you would not believe possible; the people that you meet and the place you go, they last a lifetime.”

Honoring Veterans in Zephyrhills

Zephyrhills’ annual Veteran’s Day parade took place this Saturday. Roughly two hundred people showed up to support the veterans and show their appreciation.

After the National Anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was said, the parade participants began making their way down Fifth Avenue.

Various groups of veterans headed down the street one car or trailer at a time. They were followed by Zephyrhills High School ROTC and JROTC members, Helen’s Baton and Dance Studio dancers, several leagues of Boy Scouts and a few other veteran-supporting groups.

Also in the mix of veterans were the animals who served the country. These included dogs and horses.

Main Street Zephyrhills hosts this event every year. A member of the board of Main Street Zephyrhills, Jody Wilkeson, commented on the history of the parade.

“The Veteran’s Day parade has been going on for over ten years here in downtown,” Wilkeson said. “On and off, probably for twenty years since Main Street was first formed.”

The announcer of the parade, Greg First, was honored to recognize veterans again this year, as he has been announcing the parade for years. He too is a veteran.

“I was in during Vietnam, 1968 to 1972,” First said. “The war that no one really liked back then but I was happy to serve. I’d do it again.”

The parade reminds us to show gratitude to our veterans and remember all those who served.