CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Evening thundershowers in Clearwater didn’t dampen spirits at a Memorial Day ceremony at the city’s Crest Lake Park.
The Veterans Alliance of Clearwater organized the event. Robby Groover is the president and a U.S. Army Veteran who lost three colleagues and friends in Afghanistan, for him Memorial Day is personal.
“And it was something that was very difficult to deal with,” said Groover. “And you know it’s what this day is all about. “
Dozens gathered in the park to pay tribute to those soldiers who died fighting for the freedoms we all enjoy. Commander Dan O’Shea, a retired Navy seal, was the keynote speaker. He says he had retired from the military prior to September 11th. On September 12th, he called to re-enlist.
“Now I got back into the military a week later, I was back on active duty within a month and I was hoping to be sent to Afghanastan with some of my special operations brothers to hunt that guy down and take care of business,” said O’Shea. “And they sent me to Tampa!”
Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne also spoke to the crowd. He is a Veteran who spent two decades in the U.S. Air Force.
“I mean I’m filled with emotions of thanks and appreciation,” said Horne after seeing the crowd gather. “Over my career, I have come to fully appreciate the whole arena of sacrifice.”
Groover says seeing folks come out to honor those fallen soldiers makes him proud.
“It makes me absolutely proud to stand here when people raise that glass when people salute those who were fighting for our freedoms,” said Groover. “And that no longer can be with us.”