BIG CYPRESS — Veterans Day celebrations took place at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium on Nov. 9 in Big Cypress.
The program was led by Sally Tommie, who was the master of ceremonies, and began with an invocation by Jonah Cypress.
Ahfachkee students Tahnia Billie and Thelma Tigertail delivered the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a rendition of “God Bless USA” by sophomore Aujua Williams.
Miss Florida Seminole Durante Blais-Billie told the audience: “I have my right to stand here and speak to you all, thanks to our veterans, with them everything is possible.
Our veterans are everyday men and women who heard the call of duty and swore to answer it; they made oaths to our people, our country, to our rights, and to our freedom.”
After the opening remarks, special guest speaker Anile Adair Locust (Cherokee), of Oklahoma, said she was proud to be here as a “veteran among veterans.”
“There’s a certain thing called motivation that provides the drive, and ambition, enthusiasm and everything that builds into your inner spirit, believe me a veteran has every bit of that,” said Locust, who served in the U.S. Air Force.
The ceremony paid tribute to fallen warrior Johnny Osceola, who served in the U.S. Army from 1976-80. He was stationed in California and Germany during his time in service.
Osceola’s family was presented with a plaque made in his honor.
“His exemplary leadership as a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the selfless commitment, and sacrifice to the protection of our freedom, his service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Tommie said.
Osceola passed away of cancer and is survived by his wife, mother, siblings, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The recognition of veterans continued with World War II veteran Richard Reynolds, 94, who served in the U.S. Marines.
He was presented with a blanket made by the Tribe to thank him for his services.
The celebration concluded with guests thanking the veterans on a reception line and a prayer followed by a luncheon.