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Citizens, veterans celebrate independence at PCB memorial ceremony
News Herald - 7/4/2018
July 04--PANAMA CITY BEACH -- Before the Fourth of July kicked off with fireworks and fun, civilians were reminded of their freedom at a veterans memorial ceremony at Aaron Bessant Park on Wednesday.
"The Fourth of July is the birthday of our nation. That date has been arbitrarily selected as an occasion to thank the group of people that provided that independence and the veterans that have helped maintain that independence," said Harri Brax, vice president of the Bay County Veterans Council.
Veterans donning military hats and uniforms showed up to the ceremony with their families and friends to honor those who fought for the country's freedom.
Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas and several council members attended the event, as well.
"It's a good event," Thomas said. "The Beach and Bay County have already been a big veterans area."
He encouraged people to get out and attend some of the day's festivities and to be thankful for being an American.
The ceremony was sponsored by the Bay County Veterans Council and the Panama City Beach City Council. Brax said the event has been held for about seven or eight years.
Clifford Teeter said he grew up attending parades that celebrated the country's independence. The retired Army staff sergeant was one of the many veterans who attended the event.
"I was in the Army for 26 years," Teeter said. "You kind of get engrossed in these types of ceremonies. I try to go to as many veteran events as I can. I feel strongly about our veterans."
DeCody Brad Marble of the Sons of the American Revolution, donning colonial era clothing, spoke to the crowd about freedom: freedom of expression, freedom from fear and more.
"Freedom is not free," Marble told the crowd. "In fact, freedom is very expensive. Every day, each of you must bear the cost and responsibility to ensure freedom endures. Freedom requires individual responsibility to abide by the rules, which enables citizenship in a civilized community."
Brax, a Navy veteran, said the country is grateful for the men and women who put on a uniform to serve the country.
"Every veteran has given up a time in their lives to the service of their country. Some have had to fight wars or conflicts; all have been trained to be ready to do that," he said. "In either case, they have made sacrifices for which citizens of our country are grateful."
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