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Flags for Heroes holds moving ceremony


Linda Sandlin  |  Rotary president

After months of planning by the Rotary Club of Marco Island Noontime and nearly 50 community volunteers, the Flags for Heroes nearly 300 flags were a breathtaking site to see and ready for the opening ceremony Feb. 15, Presidents’ Day.

Each flag had a medallion with the names of the sponsor and their hero: Veteran, police officer, volunteer, healthcare worker, first responder, teacher, family member, friend, sweetheart …

At 4:30 the Marco Island Yacht Club members poured onto the event site for photo opp’s with the flags and their banner honoring all their veterans. Approximately 200 audience members continued to arrive on the ceremony grounds and at 4:50 the entire Marco Police Force arrived in parade formation in their squad cars with sirens singing and lined up along San Marco Road. The officers then impressively marched into position in formation as the crowd cheered.

At 5, master of ceremonies, Alan Sandlin, graciously welcomed heroes and guests and appropriately opened the ceremony with George Washington’s Prayer for the Nation followed by the Lely High School Junior ROTC presentation of the colors. As the audience, led by Alan and Linda Sandlin, sang the final phrases of the “Star Spangled Banner,” 23-year Navy Commander, Mick Thorstenson, flew overhead making three passes to honor our heroes and fallen heroes.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, City Council Chair Jared Grifoni, gave a presentation officially proclaiming Feb 14-19 as Flags for Heroes Week. Another highlight of the evening was  a moving video displayed on two huge screens titled “Old Glory.”

The ceremony closed with “Taps” by Craig Greusel and Mr. Sandlins’ final words, “God bless you and God bless America.”

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