The city of Ocoee celebrated military personnel in its Veterans Day ceremony Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center. Mayor Rusty Johnson, a former U.S. Army sergeant in the Vietnam War, welcomed the audience to the program.
The Ocoee Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors, and Commissioner Richard Firstner, retired U.S. Navy radioman second class petty officer, led the pledge of allegiance.
Music was provided by Sherri Gladney singing the national anthem, the Ocoee Middle School wind ensemble playing several patriotic selections and an Ocoee High School trumpeter playing taps.
The keynote speaker was retired Army Staff Sgt. William Castillo, who felt the call to service after witnessing the 9/11 terrorist attacks while working at a sandwich shop in New York City. He talked about losing his leg while deployed, his struggles afterward and his discovery of bobsledding, in which he has earned several gold and silver medals.
“I don’t know where you are in your life,” Castillo said. “If you’re looking for hope … be compassionate with yourself, be patient with yourself, be the best version of yourself you can be.”
The Honor Guard placed a remembrance wreath at the city’s Memorial Wall at the conclusion of the program.