With Memorial Day still in mind, it seems appropriate that this week’s column focuses on those men and women who serve in our armed forces, insuring that we continue to enjoy the freedom our constitution provides. One such group embracing the idea of honoring our military recently was the South Dade Chamber. At the Chamber’s May 25th breakfast meeting, sponsored by Gulliver Schools at the Dadeland Marriott, a sell-out crowd enjoyed a dynamic program packed with great presentations by Gulliver students and Major General Thomas Wilkerson, USMC (Ret), the highlights for the morning that focused on our armed services and the upcoming Memorial Day.
Gulliver fourth grader Mia Vazquez helped lead the pledge to the flag, while another Gulliver fourth grade student, Anastasia Perez- Ternent and Emily Martinez-Lanza, valedictorian for this year’s graduating class, spoke about their experiences as Gulliver students. Yet another Gulliver graduating senior, Shaan Petal, introduced the guest speaker Major General Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is CEO of the United States Naval Institute, one of the oldest professional military associations in the U.S. With a 31 year career, this retired marine entertained the crowd with wonderful inspirational and sometimes hilarious stories. Wilkerson suggested that in order to give us all a common bond, we should all be required to serve two years of mandatory service in military, or some other kind of service working at minimum wage for government, Peace Corps, charity, or something of that sort. This idea has the support of many, including this writer.
Among the honored guests introduced by Chamber Chair Veronica Flores at the event was Brig. General William Binger, Commander of the Homestead Air Reserve Base, who leaves soon to create a new Air Force initiative called Force Generation. Also attending the breakfast was Binger’s Vice Commander, Jose Monteagudo, who will serve as interim Commander until Binger’s replacement is in place.
In other military news, save the date of Saturday, June 19, 2010. On that date SouthCom Deputy Commander, US Army LTG Ken Keen will host the Inaugural USSOUTHCOM Army Ball at the Doral Golf and Spa Resort. Guest speaker will be the Sergeant Major of the Army, Kenneth Preston. The Army’s Birthday is June 14th and hence, this date. The evening will start at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception. During cocktail hour, guests will be entertained with a performance by the internationally recognized Trumpeter, Saxophonist and Vocalist, SSG Johnny Holliday.
The formal activities of the night will begin with the National Anthem sung by the spectacular voice of Detective Henry Guzman, from the South Miami Police Dept. The dinner will be accompanied by the Vocalist Group from the US Army Field Band, Vocalease. Tickets for civilians are $75 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, go online to www.southcomarmyball.com .
Finally, may all those who serve our country and their families be assured that their sacrifices will always be remembered and their service to our nation very much appreciated.
Until next week, keep making each day count.
Gloria Burns is Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Pinecrest, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, as well as a columnist for Community Newspapers. Keeping abreast of community activities is a challenge. If you would like to submit information for this column, please send your news via e-mail to