The showers had moved up the Manatee River and Monument Park was almost empty, save for the cleanup detail.
Wednesday morning’s Veterans Day Parade and ceremony were over.
Yet the images linger.
Hundreds of uniformed JROTC members marching in cadence.
Girl Scouts in light green uniforms clutching little American flags.
The Monument Park audience giving Holly and Trina Rizzo a long, appreciative standing ovation for their stirring a cappella “God Bless America.”
What a celebration.
What a day to be a veteran.
Pictures of them remain strongest.
Veterans were scattered throughout the crowd watching the parade along Riverfront Boulevard.
Some watched quietly, keeping to themselves, even as a parade participant distributing flyers called out, “Happy Veteran’s Day!”
Some veterans wore Navy ballcaps bearing the name of the warship they served on with a campaign ribbon across the front of their hats.
Others wore garrison caps from the VFW or American Legion decorated with their post pins earned over the years.
After the ceremony at Monument Park began and everyone rose to honor the colors, the sight of all the veterans snapping to attention in unison was striking.
It didn’t matter how old they were, either.
They looked sharp.
Heads held high.
Right hands poised in crisp salute.
They still had that pride, that polish.
It was impressive, this company of old warriors from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
There were veterans of the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, too.
But it was my father’s generation and mine that had my admiration.
They all had Mike Clinesmith’s, as well.
A Marine for 23.5 years, the VFW Post 10141 commander was being honored as Manatee County’s Veteran of the Year.
A man of few words, Clinesmith’s sentiments were appropriate Wednesday.
“Every veteran should be Veteran of the Year,” he told the audience.
Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix,is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Please include a phone number for verification.