Monday was a beautiful day for a parade — not too hot with a pleasant breeze, a great day to honor the men and women of our Armed Services past and present for their service.
The parade, coordinated by the Veterans Council of Highlands County, began at 12:30 p.m. near American Legion Post 74 in Sebring and made its way around the Circle to the lawn of the courthouse.
A large contingent of motorcycle riders from various veteran organizations led the parade. Retired Highlands County Veteran Services Officer Joseph A. Dionne served as the parade grand marshal. The car carrying Dionne led a number of vehicles with dignitaries and honorees.
Dionne is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major and a graduate of Lake Placid High School.
Representatives of local school organizations also marched. The Sebring and Avon Park high school bands, the Lake Placid High School Army JROTC Honor Guard, and the Avon Park High School Air Force JROTC were represented. They also participated in the ceremony at the courthouse lawn. Several vintage cars also participated in the parade, along with a float.
The post parade ceremony saw Veterans Council president Rick Ingler as master of ceremonies. The Rev. Ted Moore of Heartland Christian Church gave the invocation. Lake Placid High School Army JROTC Honor Guard advanced the Colors which were retired at the close of the ceremony by the Avon Park High School Air Force JROTC.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Military Order of Purple Heart member Fred Arbelo. A touching rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by the Sebring High School show choir, followed by Marti Capodiferro’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful.” Each of the military branches was recognized by Highlands County Veteran Services Officer Denise Williams, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Dr. Cary Pigman, District 55 Florida House Representative and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was the speaker. His message reminded the audience of the commonality among the services and the comradeship that moves men and women to serve and sacrifice. The Sebring High School Air Force JROTC provided Pigman’s Honor Escort.
The Sebring and Avon Park High School bands presented a musical tribute to each of the military services. USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant (retired) Gerry Harvey gave the closing remarks. Capodiferro led the hymn “Amazing Grace” followed on bagpipes by Bob Campbell. Rev. Moore offered the benediction. Vic Anderson played “taps” in honor of those service members who gave their all.