Orlando takes a moment to remember prisoners of war.

The city of Orlando held a POW-MIA Recognition Ceremony at City Hall on Friday, hosted by the Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – Thomas A. Janke can remember so vividly the night of July 20, 1969, the day an American astronaut first landed on the moon.
What he remembers so strongly about that history-making night is where he was at the time it was happening. Janke was serving in the United States Army, as a soldier in the midst of the Vietnam War.
“That very same night, I was hiding in a ditch,” Janke said. In the pitch dark on a dirt road in Vietnam, he can recall being “alone and running into the night, saying ‘Let me not shoot a friend.’ “
Standing before a large crowd in the Rotunda at Orlando City, Janke said he often wonders how history could create some sharply contrasting scenes at the same time – a highly controversial war that deeply divided a nation, and a mission into space that united the country in celebrating such a remarkable achievement.
He recalled a letter that his then-young son sent to him while he was serving in Vietnam, in which the boy simply asked, “Who’s winning?” Looking back at that question today, Janke said, and the answer is now obvious.
“We are,” Janke said. “America is winning because of the men and women who serve us.” Continue reading

Winter Haven Police mark the anniversary of 9-11.

The Winter Haven Police Department will offer a ceremony on Sept. 8 marking the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the lasting impact on law enforcement.

WINTER HAVEN – There’s a reason, Jamie Brown said, that her agency takes the time to remember the devastating terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“9-11 changed a lot,” she said. “Kids in elementary school don’t remember 9-11. This is just a way to keep that in focus.”
Taking time to reflect on the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. are important in another way, she added: by remembering the courage and sacrifice that first responders made on that day – and continue to make today.
“In order to bring the public back to remember them, these guys and gals get up every morning — or every night if they work the night shift — and as soon as they hit the ground, they don’t know if they’re coming home,” Brown said. “It’s just a way to show our appreciation to them.”
The event is called Honoring Our Heroes–Remembering the Day, and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Central Park in downtown Winter Haven. It begins at 6 p.m. and is a collaboration between the Polk County Veteran’s Council and the agency that Brown works for as the public information officer, the Winter Haven Police Department. Continue reading

Orange County proclaims Tuesday as Purple Heart Day.

Orange County government proclaimed Tuesday as Purple Heart Day.

ORLANDO — The original Purple Heart was designated as the Badge of Military Merit, and established by the man who was then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington.
It was established by his order, from his headquarters in Newburgh, N.Y. on Aug. 7, 1782, when the Badge of Military Merit was awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers.
Today, Aug. 7, Orange County’s Board of Commissioners took a moment to not only recognize this historic date as Purple Heart Day, but to honor military personnel who had been wounded or killed in combat.
At the start of the county commission meeting this afternoon, the Orange County Government issued a proclamation honoring the local Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and all Purple Heart medal recipients. Continue reading

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