Dozens of service members were honored in a swearing-in ceremony in South Florida ahead of Memorial Day.
Military leaders, Miami-Dade officials and families gathered Friday at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami for the celebration, which was part of the National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai, an event held Memorial Day weekend on Miami Beach that includes an air and sea show.
“On each Memorial Day, we pause to remember and reflect on those military members who made the ultimate sacrifice and service to our nation,” said Brendan C. McPherson, the commander of the Seventh District Command, U.S. Coast Guard.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who served in the Navy, was included on the announced list of speakers circulated ahead of the Opa-locka event, though he didn’t attend. DeSantis filed paperwork on Wednesday to run for president.
DeSantis was in Orlando Friday, where he spoke at Florida Parent-Educators Association Homeschool Convention and slammed reporting on the Miami-Dade School Board barring elementary schoolers from reading a poem by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern told the Miami Herald the governor was invited to several events Friday and never confirmed attendance in Opa-locka. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis represented the state’s leadership instead, quipping that his 12-year-old son tagged along to enjoy the weekend show.
Patronis commended service members in Florida for their prompt response to Hurricane Ian and the Surfside condo collapse, also taking a few minutes to boast that Florida “is the most veteran-friendly state.”
“We have to remember that there are a lot of sacrifices ... many have made for the betterment of the United States,” Patronis said. “We are so blessed to live in the freest nation in the world.”
For executive producer Mickey Markoff, the air and sea show is an opportunity to show off military technology, empower local businesses and honor the men and women of the military, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“This is a wholesome, family-oriented, patriotic event,” Markoff said. “It has something for everyone.”
Gen. Laura Richardson, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, has been working with the South Florida community for 25 years. The weekend show, she said, helps spotlight careers in the armed forces — and recruit future leaders.
“I couldn’t have even thought of the things that I’ve been able to do at the Army,” the four-star general said.