Local News

Veterans honored in Highlands County

SEBRING - Bob Scheurman, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1967, said he liked the patriotism displayed during the Veterans Day event Monday morning at Cracker Trail Elementary School. "Us Vietnam-era guys didn't see a lot of that," he said. Cracker Trail was one of many such venues where Highlands County residents honored veterans. Later in the day, a Veterans Day parade made it through downtown Sebring for Highland County's official observance of the day.
"It (the observance) was outstanding," said Fred Arbelo, who served during the Korean War, from 1952 to 1953. He said he was sent home in 1953 because of injuries to his head and leg. He received the Purple Heart award. State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, who is also lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, said Veterans Day is to honor those who died or were injured while serving in their country, as well as those who survived and returned to live in various communities. Those who served, showed "a willingness and a readiness to sacrifice everything," he said. Pigman said because of medical advances, fewer have made the ultimate sacrifice. Now, 90 percent of those injured make it home, compared to a much lower percentage of years past. But the constant has been the camaraderie of the troops where every soldier has a "battle buddy" who looks out for them, he said. "The most important healthcare provider is your battle buddy," he said. Among other things, Pigman said, is that "it is he who will move you to cover to save your life." That battle buddy also will shoot the person who shot the soldier and move the soldier out of the line of fire, he said. Those who fight in wars and who go overseas learn "to appreciate how good we have it," he said. During the event, the Lake Placid High School Army JROTC Honor Guard advanced the colors, the Sebring High School sang the Star Spangled Banner and the Sebring High School and the Avon Park High School bands performed a musical tribute to veterans. Marti Capodiferro sang "America the Beautiful" and "Amazing Grace." At Cracker Trail Elementary, many of the pupils wore red, white and blue caps. Some had red, white and blue visors. Children spoke about historical events relating to veterans and sang various songs, including a medley of songs about each branch of the service. "It was great," said Scheurman of the event. Scheurman and William Evans, another attendee, have grandchildren at the school. Such an event brings people out to recognize and remember those who served and it the children "something to think about," said Evans, who served during the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968. "It wasn't good, Evans recalled about the war at that time. He said a lot of his friends were killed and "I was wounded two times." jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834