People from all over South Florida came to Historic Downtown Homestead and Losner Park on Saturday, May 25th to pay tribute to our Military Men and Women during the second annual Military Appreciation Day in Homestead. The successful event attracted thousands of civilians and military personnel who enjoyed family fun with live music, dance performances, food trucks, rides, bounce houses, and military displays and demonstrations.
“The event was a grand success,” said Councilman Stephen R. Shelley, who spearheaded the organization of the event. “Military Appreciation Day provides a venue for South Florida to honor our Military Men and Women from all branches of the armed services as well as learn about each branch through hands on exhibits and displays in a family fun environment.
The free outdoor Memorial Weekend event was a community effort organized by the City of Homestead in collaboration with the Homestead Air Reserve Base, the Military Affairs Committee and the Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event featured Military vehicles, and boats lined up along the picturesque streets of Historic Downtown Homestead. The community also had the opportunity to learn about how the different branches of the armed forces serve and protect our country through a variety of Military displays including weapons, parachutes and information booths. Various Military groups and organizations such as the local VFW Post 4127, the 482nd Fighter Wing, 482nd Civil Engineering Squadron, 482nd Security Forces Squadron, U. S. Air Force Reserve, 50th Regional Support Group - Florida Army National Guard, Detachment 1, 125th Fighter Wing - Florida Air National Guard, U. S. Coast Guard Maritime and Security Team, Special Operations Command South, U. S. Power Squadron, U. S. Dept. of Homeland Security, U. S. Customs and Border Protection, Miami Air and Marine Branch, Monroe Marauders Inc., ROTC and the Military Youth Ambassadors Program were also present at the event and offered families information, giveaways, and services.
Military ID Holders were treated by the Military Affairs Committee to $10 vouchers that could be exchanged for food at the event’s food trucks. Additionally, those who attended the event wearing Military uniforms were given a free ticket for a $500 cash raffle sponsored by Value Place Lodging; the lucky winner was announced on stage at the event. Attendees also enjoyed an interactive demonstration by the Homestead Police Department K9 Division and performances by Homestead City Ballet, harmonica player Gunther Karger and singing quartet Vokl Harmony. Miami Classic Rock and Roll Band, Main Highway played a variety of classic rock hits while children enjoyed themselves on the rock climbing walls, bounce houses and Military display vehicles. An exhibit showcasing over one hundred art and essay entries from the Military Appreciation Day Student Art and Essay Contest were on display and the winners of each category were announced on stage and received cash prizes. This year’s event called for students from all over South Florida to enter an art and essay contest on “what freedom and honoring service means”.
After the Color Guard was presented by the 482nd Fighter Wing Honor Guard and the National Anthem was sang by Senior Airman Jessica Herndon, Mayor Steven C. Bateman and Councilman Shelley presented a proclamation to Homestead Air Reserve Base’s Special Operations Command South, in which Mayor Steven C. Bateman proclaimed May 25, 2013 as Special Operations Command South Day. The proclamation honored the work this Command does in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
The Military Affairs Committee Military Youth Ambassadors and Pastor Brock Shiffer also presented awards to Col. Elwin A. Rozyskie, Jr., Lt. Col. Scott Walker, Lt. Col. James Spooner, and Lt. Col. Stewart Mason for their extensive careers in the United States Air Force. Along with the City of Homestead City Council, Mayor Steven C. Bateman, Vice-Mayor Jon Burgess, Councilwoman Judy Waldman, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough-McCormick, Councilman Elvis Maldonado, Councilman Jimmie L. Williams, III and Councilman Stephen Shelley, among the local dignitaries who had the honor of being present at the event to honor military men and women were Senator Dwight Bullard of District 39, State Representative Kionne McGhee of District 117, and County Commissioner Vice Chair Lynda Bell of District 8