by John Donnelly.......
Words are insufficient in describing the debt of gratitude I harbor for those who gathered to celebrate this year's 242nd Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. With the passing of my long time Marine Brother and partner, Norm Higgins, along with the destruction associated with Hurricane Irma, I didn't know if I was going to be able to provide our Marines, their families and the citizens of Monroe County with what has become a "bedrock event".
At first, I doubted my ability to pull it off. However, coming to my aid and rescue were a bevy of entities and individuals, all generously and enthusiastically pulling me along towards our mutual goal and objective.
Without the strong support and philanthropic goodwill of the Publix Supermarket Corporation and our own Chef Michael's Restaurant, this birthday celebration would not have occurred.
Linda Ellis, Diane McKinley and Carolyn Thomas made certain that all the deli platters and cakes were properly prepared and graciously served to the audience. As usual, many unsung heroes worked feverishly to get the American Legion Post 333 in Key Largo ready for this event. In addition, a multitude of supporters worked quietly behind the scene to ensure a pleasant experience for our guests.
Marine Corps' Major Jason Kendall set up an invigorating video, which depicted "life" as a United States Marine. Students from a multitude of grade levels eagerly participated in portions of the ceremony.
State Attorney Dennis Ward, Veterans Service Officer Gary Johnson, School Board Member John Dick, Key Largo Wastewater Commissioner Sue Heim and long time Veteran's Advocate Attorney Jack Bridges; honored us with their presence. These community leaders have regularly put forth an abundance of kindness, advocacy and magnanimous action on behalf of our nation's veterans and their families. They've tirelessly gone beyond the "call of duty".
Without the willingness of this newspaper's editor to stand with the United States Marine's of Monroe County and promote their birthday celebration, this event would have failed in its intent and purpose.
My heartfelt thanks and sincerest appreciation goes to the sizeable assembly of spirited citizens that gathered to make this year's celebration a success. The honor and respect generated by their presence; acknowledged the appreciation and indebtedness held by many American's for the Marines that have sacrificed and served them, for such a long time.