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Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends – Honoring and Helping Our Heroes Every Day

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Having just celebrated Memorial Day earlier this week, honoring our heroes is at the top of everyone’s mind. However, the Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends Association(GLVFA) honors and helps our military men and women 365 days of the year. Over the past seven years the organization has raised almost three-quarters of a million dollars with their annual Golf Outing. All of this money, after expenses, goes to various local veterans groups to help them meet their expenses.

In addition, GLVFA invites speakers to address the group on various topics. Individuals also donate their own money at times to help individual veterans who are in need. It is an all-volunteer association with no paid employees, a volunteer board of directors and numerous members who help run the organization.

One of the events that GLVFA held last month was a get-together at the Glen Lakes Country Club to honor the founders of Rolling Thunder. This is an advocacy group for veterans founded in 1988 that works to bring full accountability by the U.S. government for prisoners of war (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIA).

Besides members of GLVFA and invited guests, representatives from the Florida chapters of Rolling Thunder attended the April 13th event. The focal point of the event was Artie Muller, one of the Rolling Thunder founders. Due to health reasons, however, he could not attend in person, but he did appear virtually via streaming.

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GLVFA also set up a permanent chair for Muller and the other founders inside the clubhouse at Glen Lakes as a symbol of their presence and contributions to the cause of POWs and those who are still MIA.
Glen Lakes Country Club manager Gaetano Broccoli (“G” to his friends), a Marine Corps veteran hosted the event. Not only is he a member of Rolling Thunder, he is also a strong supporter of Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends.

Gaetano read the following inscription from a plaque that is affixed to the chair: “You are not forgotten. Since World War l, more than 82,000 American soldiers are unaccounted for. This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of those brave men and women and to the sacrifices each made serving this country.

He added, “This chair is dedicated in honor of Sgt. Arnie Muller for his years of service on and off the battlefield…We are forever indebted to Sgt. Muller for his leadership.”

In addition to Gaetano’s supported, the Glen Lakes Country Club ownership, management and staff have assisted GLVFA in numerous ways, including hosting their monthly meetings, providing food and support services for the quarterly Rest and Recuperation (R & R) events, as well as donating the use of the golf course and golf carts for their annual golf tournament.

Another event that the GLVFA members organized was a Memorial Day barbecue held on May 25 for the residents and staff of the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Land O’ Lakes. GLVFA members cooked and served the food and chatted with the residents.

Then, this past Monday, May 27, they held a Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial just inside the gates of the community. The Glen Lakes Golf and Country Club owners donated the land and help maintain this beautiful site.

Since its dedication last November, the memorial has been enhanced by the addition of two granite planters donated by Christian and Tabitha Lugo, owners of Lugo’s Natural Stonework. The Lugos had already donated the matching benches last year.

A crowd of more than 150 men, women and children came out on Monday to pay homage to our fallen heroes. Cadets from Springstead High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC formed an honor guard to open the ceremony. Dominique Martins sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America.”

Prior to the beginning of the event GLVFA members distributed artificial red poppies, which have become a symbol of Memorial Day. The significance of the poppies is based on a poem entitled “In Flanders Fields.” Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian who served as a brigade surgeon in the First World War, was inspired to write the poem when he saw a battlefield covered in red poppies and thought about the soldiers who had died and would be buried in this field. Jadon Padin, one of the Springstead High School cadets, recited the poem, which is told in the voice of one of those fallen soldiers.

Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends Association is open to anyone who is a resident of the community, regardless of whether or not they are a veteran and membership is free. Their annual Golf Outing is open to anyone, but spots are limited and are usually sold out months before the November tournament.

Any person, business, or organization can become a sponsor or donate items or gift certificates for the Silent Auction that accompanies the tournament.

For more information about GLVFA, along with many images of the organization’s activities and interesting historical tidbits, log onto www.glenlakesvets.org. To learn more about the Rolling Thunder organization go to www.rollingthunder1.com

In Flanders Fields
by JOHN MCCRAE

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(L-R) Gaetano Broccoli, Curt Reilly [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
(L-R) Gaetano Broccoli, Curt Reilly
[Photo by Sarah Nachin]
Rolling Thunder vest worn by Gaetano Broccoli [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
Rolling Thunder vest worn by Gaetano Broccoli [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
Memorial Day service [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
Memorial Day service
[Photo by Sarah Nachin]
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