In honor of Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11), Christopher Columbus High School conducted a ceremony for the unveiling of its new Patriot Plaza which pays tribute to alumni who have served in the nation’s armed forces. The event took place the morning of Nov. 10.
The plaza, which features an extraordinary statue of an American Eagle holding the American Flag, has been renovated to include new marble tile background, lighting, patriotic works of art, and a plaque with more than 400 names of alumni who served in the armed forces.
The plaza was made possible due to the generosity of alumnus Michael Carricarte, Vietnam War veteran/entrepreneur, and his family.
Participating in the event were:
• Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (Columbus alumnus from 1972), who gave the opening remarks;
• General Rafael Ribas (Class of 1981) who was the guest speaker. Ribas is the Brigadier General at the Mark Lance Armory in St. Augustine. He has served two combat tours in Iraq and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and V Device, Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Gold).
• Michael Carricarte (Class of 1959/Vietnam veteran) and his son Andrew Carricarte (Class of 1997/Iraq War veteran) who also spoke and unveiled the plaza along with Mayor Gimenez and General Ribas.
• Other speakers: Columbus president Br. Kevin Handibode, principal David Pugh, longtime teacher and moderator of the school Patriot Club Dr. E. Carter Burrus, and Patriot Club student president Austin Wagner;
• Dozens of veterans from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, many in uniform;
• The Color Guard from the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) performing a flag ceremony;
• The Columbus School Band playing the National Anthem and Taps, and
• Columbus students, faculty, alumni.