POINCIANA – For many of the adults, it’s likely to be a moment that evokes very strong memories, some of them painful. But at the same time, it’s also likely to be an emotional reminder of how much their service to this nation is appreciated.
For the children, there will be no such memories. But it could prove to be, at least the organizers hope, a powerful lesson in patriotism and civic duty.
“It’s important that we teach civic pride to our kids,” said Jeanette Coughenour. “That’s why we’re going to include local children who are involved in our summer program.”
The theme of the event, after all, is “Remembering Those Who Fought for Our Freedom,” and this annual Poinciana celebration will be held on Tuesday, July 3, starting at 11 a.m.
On the day before this nation celebrates the 4th of July holiday, Poinciana will take a moment to mark the historic contributions made toward preserving this nation’s independence by local veterans — those who served in conflicts overseas, fighting to defend the freedoms that the country holds dear.
“It was originally started in May 2004,” said Coughenour, the manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, which sponsors this annual event. “This is our ninth year of recognizing our Poinciana veterans.”
The commemorative ceremony will honor veterans from all past wars, and will be held at the Poinciana Veterans Memorial at 401 Walnut St., the same location at the APV Administration building.
During the event, there will be complimentary hot dogs, potato chips and soda served to the guests, who will be asked to attend to take part in honoring all residents who have so valiantly defended the nation.
This year, the guest speaker will be former Osceola County School Board member Thomas Chalifoux Jr., who is himself a decorated veteran.
As Coughenour noted, local school students have been invited to attend the ceremony, since “It’s important to share that pride with them as well.”
But mostly it will be done in honor of the adults, she said – those who risked their lives in this nation’s defense. That will include members of the Solivita Veterans Club and the Poinciana Veterans Club.
Marge Mitchell is a member of the Poinciana veterans Club, having served in the Army in the early 1980s — including in 1983, during Operation Urgent Fury, or the U.S. invasion of Grenada after a bloody military coop toppled the constitutional government in the Caribbean island nation.
Mitchell said she has attended this ceremony in past years and definitely will do so again on Tuesday.
“They’re going to honor the veterans from Korea and Vietnam and Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom,” she said. “Any time the veterans are recognized is wonderful. It’s unfortunate that often we only do it on July 4 or Memorial Day. They don’t realize that every day, a service member puts their life on the line for you. I want all veterans to be proud of what they’ve done. And they should be recognized.”
In the eight years that this event has been held, “It’s grown each year,” Coughenour said. “When the Poinciana Veterans Club was formed, it has grown with them as well.”
And this will remain an annual event in Poinciana, she added.
“It’s kind of like our Christmas parade,” Coughenour said. “We do it every year now.”
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