Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of yellow ribbons around Plant City festooned on trees, light posts and the doors of businesses during the week before Veterans Day.
Yellow ribbons are a traditional way of welcoming veterans home and supporting them, and welcoming and honoring veterans is exactly why the Elks Lodge, Historic Plant City Main Street, the City of Plant City and the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring Plant City’s salute to veterans, active military, and POW/MIAs this year.
But there is one more group these organizations want to help on this Veterans Day. Sadly, 22 veterans commit suicide every day and they are trying to reduce this number by focusing on it.
The U.S. Veterans Administration mental health website lists several warning signs for suicide, including hopelessness, sleeplessness, mood swings, anger, increasing alcohol or drug use and withdrawing from family and friends.
Of course, the great stress of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder may serve to bring on some of these symptoms. But whether a veteran experienced combat or not, our nation has learned from its sad treatment of Vietnam veterans to separate feelings about the national policy of fighting a war from the gratitude it owes its sons and daughters who put themselves in harm’s way.
The city’s salute to veterans will end on Sunday, Nov. 10, at TECO Expo Hall on the Strawberry Festival Grounds. Doors will open at noon to give veterans a chance to meet other veterans and the event will begin at 1 p.m. with the presentation of the colors and of the flags of all five branches of our military. Congressman Ross Spano will sing the National Anthem. Captain Danny Burgess, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, will be on hand to thank veterans for the freedom we enjoy.
Music will be provided by a professional Brass Band and disc jockey, and Mission BBQ will serve lunch. There will be drawings for gifts and the first 150 veterans to arrive will receive a goody bag.
Veterans with proof of service, such as a DD214 or a VA card, will receive two free tickets for admission and lunch. All others are asked to contribute $10 each.
Persons wishing to sponsor one or more veterans for the event can certainly do so. Checks to sponsor veterans or to pay for admission for anyone should be made out to Historic Plant City Main Street. Main Street is a 501(c)3 organization, so contributions are tax deductible.
Veterans Day is a national holiday, so everyone is urged to fly the stars and stripes in front of their home or business during the week of the city’s observance.
Plant City Elks Lodge member Judy Wise is this year’s Veterans Chair for the city and the area. Those who wish to participate in this event or to ask questions may contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.