A Memorial for Our Veterans
By Diane M. Loeffler
On Thursday, January 10, the Veterans Memorial was dedicated in deeply moving ceremonies held in Community Hall and at the site of the memorial. The program began with the SCC United Methodist Church Choir singing a prelude written by Senator Orrin Hatch. Master of Ceremonies Benny Blackshire, LTC US Army (Ret.), spoke of those who served and thanked Walter Cawein. Blackshire says, “Cawein was the leader and the driving force” in building this memorial.
Reverend Julian Graham, LTC US Army (Retired) sang in the choir, gave the invocation and, later, the benediction. Walt Cawein, Lt Col US Air Force (Ret.), thanked all veterans, families of veterans and our gold, silver and blue star families. He also thanked those who donated around $136,000 to the memorial. He says he is grateful for each and every donation “ranging from $40,000, contributed by Dallas and Norma Tuthill, to the three dollars I was given by a little girl, probably someone’s granddaughter.”
Cawein thanked his committee. He says, “I couldn’t have worked with a better group of folks.” He also expressed his gratitude to Lyn Reitz, the staff of the Sun City Center Community Association, Mark Johnson, Bright View, ProCrete, Kim Livingston, The News of Sun City Center, The Observer, Sun Radio (96.3), Bertha Wagner, and Jane Trefen. When her husband, Michael, tragically died, Trefen asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the memorial.
Cawein introduced Keynote Speaker, Mike Davis, Col. US Marine Corps (Ret.). Cawein says, “Davis logged 3,700 flight hours as a helicopter pilot and also flew Air Force One during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.”
Before Cawein could leave the front of the auditorium, he was surprised with a special presentation and plaque from retired Commander Navy, Ed Socha. Socha is the oldest survivor of Pearl Harbor living in Sun City Center.
Davis’s rousing Keynote Speech reflected his patriotism and his appreciation for all of those who served. He says, “This land of ours is about service and sacrifice. The protected seldom do understand the sacrifice. It is my privilege to honor veterans who look beyond their own self interests.”
A medley of songs honoring each branch of the military was sung by the SCC United Methodist Church followed by Salvina Tannenholz singing God Bless the USA.
Outdoors, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony. The SCC United Methodist Church Choir sang The Star Spangled Banner and Salvina Tanneholz sang America the Beautiful. After Cawein’s closing remarks and Graham’s benediction, attendees walked around the new memorial taking photos of the statues, flags and engraved bricks.
The memorial is located in front of Community Hall, 1910 South Pebble Beach Boulevard and is open to everyone.
If you wish to purchase a brick to honor the service of a particular individual or to all who serve, you can continue to do so. You can go on line to charitablefoundationscc.org or mail your donation for a brick to SCC Charitable Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 6105, Sun City Center, FL 33571. Bricks measuring 4” x 8” with text only are $100; with text and military service clip art they are $115. The larger 8” x 8” bricks are $200 with text only and $215 with text and clip art. For more information, email “servingscc@charitablefoundationsccorg”.