Oldsmar honors Florida’s fallen heroes this week

Oldsmar Veterans Memorial Park

Oldsmar honors Florida’s fallen heroes this week with two special events in town.

In America, Veterans Day is always observed on November 11.

But this week, the City of Oldsmar is honoring Florida’s fallen heroes with a pair of special events in town.

On Monday the “Remembering Florida’s Fallen” photo exhibit opened at the Oldsmar Public Library, with a special ribbon cutting ceremony attended by residents, City officials and families of Florida’s fallen soldiers.

The exhibit, created by Evonne and Bill Williams in conjunction with Bellvue University, includes military photos of fallen soldiers who called Florida home and died in combat while serving their country.

The "Remembering Florida's Fallen" exhibit at the Oldsmar Public Library. Credit: City of Oldsmar.

The “Remembering Florida’s Fallen” exhibit at the Oldsmar Public Library. Credit: City of Oldsmar.

“This exhibit is like no other, because when you see the picture of the fallen soldier and the notes that are attached to the picture, it tells more of a story,” Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis told Oldsmar Connect.

“It’s very moving.”

The “Remembering Florida’s Fallen” exhibit runs through this Friday, September 25, at the library, which is located at 400 St. Petersburg Drive East.

On Sunday, September 27 the annual Gold Star Mothers and Families’ Day Ceremony will be held at Oldsmar’s Veterans Memorial Park.

The event has been held in the United States on the last Sunday of September since 1936, and according to the American Gold Star Mothers organization, the ceremony serves as “a tribute to any fallen US service member who died in combat theater or from a service related death, illness or suicide while active duty or other than combat related death.”

“This will be the third year the ceremony has been held here in Oldsmar,” Oldsmar resident Toni Gross, whose son, Frank, was killed in combat in 2011, wrote Oldsmar Connect. “Normally we have had representation from MacDill (Air Force base), and last year, General Austin with US CentCom was our keynote speaker.”

This bench dedicated to Frank Gross sits in Oldsmar's Veterans Memorial Park.

This bench dedicated to Cpl. Frank R. Gross sits in Oldsmar’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Gross noted that while the day isn’t recognized as an official US holiday, the President makes an official proclamation each year about the day, and Oldsmar is one of the few cities in the state that hosts a ceremony to mark the occasion.

“To my knowledge, the only other Florida city that hosts a ceremony is Orlando, which has held a “Gold Star Mother’s Day” for several years now,” Gross, who serves as chapter president of American Gold Star Mothers of Tampa Bay and the president of Gold Star Awareness, Inc., wrote. She noted that Tampa is set to host its first ceremony on September 27.

Oldsmar's Veterans Memorial Park.

Oldsmar’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Sunday’s event is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. at the park, located at 250 Shore Drive East, and will feature speeches, presentations, performances and other moving tributes.

The two events, when taken separately, serve as poignant reminders of the sacrifices our soldiers make for their fellow Americans every day of their lives; when combined, they form a powerful tribute by the City of Oldsmar to Florida’s fallen heroes.

“To have both the fallen soldier exhibit and the ceremony on Sunday in Oldsmar is a great way to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” Mayor Bevis said.

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