Jeb Bush Honors Florida's National Guard

By: Erin Niebur
By: Erin Niebur

12-9-06

One of Jeb Bush's last duties as Florida's governor brought him to Panama City Beach today.

He honored the men and women of the Florida National Guard at an event called "Florida's Salute to Heroes."

Many of the men and women in Florida's National Guard didn't sign up to be heroes, and yet all of those honored Saturday spent part or all of the last year in Iraq and Afghanistan, And before they went oversee they fought a losing war against mother nature as Florida was pelted with hurricane after hurricane.

"Many of these people enlisted before the War on Terror. They enlisted for the benefits. They enlisted because they loved their country. They enlisted because they wanted to help the state in times of emergency and then they were called to do some extraordinary things like go to Afghanistan to train troops or transport supplies into Baghdad from Kuwait. "

Panama City was one of three Florida cities picked by the governor to host ceremonies to honor the National Guard Saturday.

Gov. Jeb Bush, Rep. Jimmy Patronis, and two generals paid tribute to hundreds of soldiers who came in from Pensacola to Tallahassee.

Blank says he's been waiting for his son's service to be celebrated.

Billy Bentley, whose son was honored, said, "It kind of surprised me when we got the call to say it was going to happen because I thought a long time back. But as long as they get recognized, that's what matters to me. It's a lot better than us who went to Vietnam."

But even though these men and women have already done more than is ever asked of most of us, their trials are not over.

Blank says his son is training to back to Iraq, this time in a more dangerous role.

"I'm hoping he doesn't have to go. That's what I'm hoping. "

Today's ceremony took place at Frank Brown Park. Lunch and games followed the day's event.


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