Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan campaigns sought for parade

Photo by Norman Schimmel

The City of Sarasota, in conjunction with the Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee, will host the annual Memorial Day parade in downtown Sarasota on Monday, May 28, starting at 10 a.m.

The event, which will begin at the intersection of Main Street and Osprey Avenue, will continue Sarasota’s long-standing tradition of honoring military personnel, city officials note.

At the conclusion of the parade, a ceremony will be held at Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park at the intersection of Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue. The ceremony is expected to begin about 11 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

Parade organizers would like to pay special tribute this year to the men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, city officials have announced. An invitation is being extended to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom to be the first civilian unit in the parade.

“It would be an honor to recognize those veterans for their service and the sacrifices they made for our nation,” a city news release says. “If you can help locate Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, please contact Jerry Derrick with the Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee and arrangements will be made,” the release adds.

Derrick may be reached at 941-861-2899.

Among the other participants in the parade will be veterans’ service organizations, law enforcement agencies, marching bands, color guards and fire departments.

The theme for the 2012 Memorial Day ceremony is A Nation Forever Grateful. The keynote speaker will be Scott Bill, a local builder whose son, Brian, lost his life in Afghanistan last August, the city news release says

Brian Bill was among 22 Navy Seals who died in the largest single loss-of-life day for the Seals in its history. He was highly decorated, with four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Purple Heart and two Combat Action Ribbons, the release points out.