Softball league holds belated Veterans Day celebration
The fields at the Cape Coral Sports Complex looked very patriotic on a night that was also patriotic, even if it happened a week later than expected.
The Cape Coral 45-plus and 50-plus Softball Leagues held a brief ceremony before play on a chilly Tuesday night, Nov. 17, to recognize those who served to protect America and who gave their lives.
Jorge Diaz, event organizer and 45+ league president, said this was simply an opportunity to pay their respects to veterans for their service and sacrifice, many of whom play in the leagues.
“It was important for us to do this. I was born in Cuba where we did not have freedom, so I am glad to live in a country where there is freedom for everyone,” Diaz said. “When I think of Veterans Day, I think of freedom.”
Jennifer Ford, secretary of the 50+ league, said her brother served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, which makes this day important to her.
“There were so many great people I went to school with who served and some didn’t come back,” Ford said. “I see some of the older guys who served in World War II who are still kicking and it’s great they served.”
The event was set to happen last week on the night before Veterans Day, but the rainy weather pushed it back a week.
The American Legion Post 90 Honor Guard was there to present the colors as the players lined up along the first and third base lines for a moment of silence, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and hear the National Anthem.
“Any time anyone in Cape Coral wants to have an event, they can call us because we want to support the community like they support us,” said Carl Saitta, sergeant-at-arms at Post 90 and commander of the color guard. “We’ve been trying to do events that were supposed to be last week, but we’re also getting calls to do funerals as well.”
The players who served were happy to be recognized. John Horn, who served in the Navy from 1976 to 1998, said he appreciated the appreciation and respect all veterans deserve, which wasn’t always the case.
“I was on the tail end of when veterans weren’t all that respected. I missed Vietnam by a few years but I always knew I wanted to be in the military,” Horn said. “I’m going to get chills seeing the flag and there are a lot of veterans in this league, so it’s good to be recognized.”
“Cape Coral is very good to the veterans and very ahead thinking with them,” said Anthony Volpe, a Marine veteran who served from 1981 to 1984. “It brings back memories but we’re also showing respect to their service to the country.”