The history behind Memorial Day
Now in its 10th year, Lakewood Ranch’s Tribute to Heroes gets an early march on Memorial Day activities at 6 p.m. Sunday at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
A pre-block party starts at 6 p.m. and the parade starts at 7 p.m. This year’s grand marshal will be Dave Daily, former commander of Braden River VFW Post 12055. Daily currently serves as adjutant of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
“Get here early to find parking and a good spot on the street,” said Keith Pandeloglou, director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities.
All are welcome to this free event to honor local veterans, active duty members of the armed forces and fallen heroes.
Attendees are welcome to bring chairs and their dogs on a leash but coolers are not allowed. All proceeds from the sale of food and drinks will benefit local veterans groups and organizations. Reserved seating is available in a VIP area for veterans.
Memorial Day itself will be observed at 9 a.m. on May 27 at Veterans Park, located between Manatee Memorial Hospital and the Bradenton Riverwalk, to honor those who gave their lives in defense of the United States.
“We will have a local veteran honor guard present the colors, playing of the national anthem, the laying of the wreaths of various wars. Our keynote speaker will be retired Col. William Michael Thurmond. Our master of ceremonies will be Edwin Robinson. The ceremony is expected to last about one hour,” said Carl Hunsinger, chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council.
Also on Memorial Day, Brad Smith, retired U.S. Navy commander and aviator, is scheduled to be the guest speaker at Westminster Manor Retirement Community’s annual Memorial Day observance at 1:30 p.m. at 1700 21st Ave. W.
Smith was shot down over North Vietnam on his 77th combat mission and endured 7 1/2 years of captivity. The event is open to the public by RSVP at 941-748-4161.
Another event planned leading into Memorial Day weekend is Whiskey and War Stories, hosted by Motorworks Brewing, 1014 Ninth St. W. in Bradenton, from 7-9 p.m. on May 22.
Whiskey and War Stories will feature a two-hour discussion and Q&A session with American Freedom’s co-founder Scott Neil, one of the first U.S. soldiers to enter Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“He wasn’t on horseback but was running separate operations at the same time on another 5th Special Forces Group team. While our partners Mark and Bob were on horse back (“12 Strong” movie) he was running missions taking down other high value targets,” said Tyler Garner, an Afghanistan horse soldier who was originally scheduled to visit Motorworks.
A number of American Freedom Distillery’s employees were among the Green Beret soldiers who battled the Taliban on horseback in the mountains of northern Afghanistan, according to a Motorworks press release. American Freedom Distillery’s Horse Soldier bourbon is a tribute to those fighters.
After the Q&A, the night will conclude with the showing of “12 Strong,” the 2018 film starring Chris Hemsworth that was based on the Green Berets who rode into Afghanistan on horseback.
Motorworks will be serving Horse Soldier cocktails and neat bourbon. Bottles signed by Neil will be available for sale, to-go only.
For more information, visit motorworksbrewing.com.