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Flagler County Veterans Day Celebration Draws Large, Enthusiastic Crowd

It was a banner day for Flagler County veterans as residents turned out by the hundreds to celebrate their service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Starting the morning under cloudy skies there would be no rain on the first Veteran’s Day Parade in 60 years in Flagler County, as families lined up along the route to wave American flags, among them, veterans.
“Since I retired from the Army back in 2016, I’ve been at every Veteran’s Day Parade and participated in a couple when I came back from Iraq in ’04 down in Palatka. It means the world to me. I like to see a lot of people out here supporting our vets, because you know, we sacrifice so much away from our families. My daughter was born and I was in Korea at the time so I didn’t get to see her born. It’s just real hard on everybody that serves in the military. When people come out here and support us, it makes me feel good,” shared Dwayne Dycus, who served in the US Army from 1982 to 2016.
Representatives from veteran’s organizations throughout Flagler County took part in the parade, along with area businesses and both high schools’ Junior ROTC programs.
Serving as Grand Marshal for the Veteran’s Day Parade, U.S. Congressman Michael Waltz was proud to see the support for the region’s veterans and the excellence demonstrated by the JROTC units as they marched down Moody Boulevard through the county seat of Bunnell.
“We have more people overseas right now as we speak than the entire British, Canadian, and Australian Army combined. We have a sacred duty to them that are out there now and those who have served, to take care of them,” said Waltz. “It’s one of the reasons I ran for Congress, was to make sure our veterans were taken care of. We’re doing better but we’re never doing good enough.”
Waltz was candid about the role JROTC plays in forming future leaders in America.
“I’m pushing for better pay for the ROTC instructors. We got that in the last defense bill, and to expand the programs into more high schools, where our young people can learn leadership, discipline, and followership – all the things that made The Greatest Generation so great. What I love about it too is you get those positive role models, male and female veterans that are willing to serve something bigger than themselves, so I’m a huge Junior ROTC fan,” added Waltz.
No parade is complete without a marching band, and with none available in Flagler County to serve, Campbell Middle School in Daytona Beach stepped up to the plate to ensure the nation’s veterans were honored after being contacted by Bunnell Police Chief David Brannon.
“We do anything for veterans. Anyone who gives back to this county, one hundred percent. You need a band, we’ll be the band for you,” said Band and Chorus Director Bree’Shawn Watson to Chief Brannon.
It was a teaching moment for the fifth through eighth grade students, according to Watson.
“This is our very first patriotic parade. The kids were really excited because we got a chance to go over what it actually meant. We talked about the flag and broke it down to different pieces, what the stars and stripes mean, and we also got a chance to go over some music,” said Watson.
“Anchors Away, we tried to have that prepared, it was so close but it was just so quick. They also learned about the different military songs and what the military actually does.”
Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson was happy to welcome everyone to the city.
“This is a pinnacle moment for the city. What a wonderful event for our veterans, honoring them, and the turnout that we’ve had is incredible,” said Robinson. “God sent this beautiful weather after it rained this morning, and it’s just been a wonderful day.”