Honoring Veterans and First Responders

What does Veterans Day mean? It means different things to different people, but I think we can all agree that it’s a day to honor all those that have served our country in war or peace. When I think of Veterans Day, I think of freedom, sacrifice and honor. It means we should be respectful of and give thanks to people who have served. This Veterans Day we are giving thanks to Veterans, Nurses, Doctors, Firemen, Police and all other First Responders that put it all on the line every day. It takes a lot of courage to serve and protect our country and we all know they don’t do it for the money.

This year has been a struggle for a lot of people, families and businesses. We were very fortunate to be able to spend the day with the Veterans and First Responders aboard the American Patriot, a long range fishing vessel out of Hollywood. Previously, this vessel was the first to take people in New York to safety during 9/11. Over the last eighteen months, Capt. Ralph Hawkins and his crew have totally restored her and she is ready for long range fishing adventures.

Our fishing community has always been a caring and generous group that steps up when a need arises. The 2020 SKA Kingfish Battle Tournament was designed to give 100 percent of the proceeds back to Veterans and First Responders. Because of this, we were able to have a fantastic Veterans Day Ceremony kicked off by Kitty McGowan singing our National Anthem. She was followed by several great speakers that shared what Veterans Day meant to them, breakfast and a day of fishing. Thank you to the United States Coast Guard, Broward Sheriff’s Office and the amazing Veterans and First Responders that made the event such a success. To us, you are all heroes!

Speaking of heroes, one of our local heroes needs our help. David Diaz is a husband, father and son who worked as a Respiratory Therapist at Kendall Hospital. He was directly caring for COVID patients earlier this year when he contracted the virus. Some people are not affected at all by the virus, but some are devastated. David has been on a ventilator for three months and has been fighting for his life. He is currently in a long term rehabilitation facility where they are caring for him. He is still on a ventilator. His fight is not over and his family has been with him the whole way. The fishing community has been raising money through tournaments, raffles and donations, so we can help him with his hospital bills and medications. The recent events have been extremely stressful on his family, both emotionally and financially. Losing a full time income in a family household is devastating. Maybe if David sees all the support he has, it will motivate him to stay strong in his fight and make a full recovery.

Once again on behalf of the fishing community, I want to say thank you to all of our Veterans and First Responders that have served or are currently serving their communities and country!

~ Trae West

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