For the first time since 2019, Ormond Beach held an in-person Veterans Day Celebration and Luncheon at the Ormond Beach Senior Center on Thursday, Nov. 9.
The event — which featured guest speakers, recognition of the military branches and entertainment — was held in a drive-thru format during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to be canceled last year due to Hurricane Nicole. Veterans were welcomed back by Mayor Bill Partington, who thanked them for their service.
"Veterans Day is a day to honor you, to thank you and to celebrate you," Partington said. "And I know for our Vietnam Vets, we want to welcome you home in a way that maybe didn't happen back when you first came home."
The event featured two guest speakers: Army veteran Trey-Shawn Perez, of Team Red, White, and Blue Daytona, and Diamond Johnson, curator of youth and outreach programs at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum.
Perez, who served in Iraq, said Veterans Day is not a day to commemorate a specific date on the calendar, but one to reflect upon its significance.
"It's a day where we unite to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and preserve the values we hold dear," Perez said. "It is a day when we remember the sacrifices, the courage and the unwavering dedication of those have served."
As an ambassador for Team RWB, an organization that supports the health and wellness of veterans, he said that they recognize a veteran's journey doesn't end with their service. Team RWB, he added, works to enrich the lives of veterans through a range of physical and social activities.
"It's a lifelong commitment to supporting one another and finding a renewed sense of purpose," Perez said.
Diamond, the daughter of veteran, spoke about OMAM's programs for veterans, including its Veterans Creative Expression workshop and its monthly Veteran Lunch and Learn. The museum also offers free admission for veterans and active service members.
"It's a great way for you all to bond and to connect with other individuals who are also veterans, and spouses of veterans throughout Volusia County," Johnson said of OMAM's programs.
Veterans, like all people, seek meaning and connection in their lives, Perez said.
"So let us remember that each veteran carries a unique story and set of experiences that have molded them into the individuals they are today," Perez said. "Their stories are a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of the American warrior."