TARPON SPRINGS — Cool, breezy weather and stirring, patriotic speeches set against the scenic backdrop of Craig Park combined to make Tarpon Springs’ 2019 Veterans Day ceremony a rousing success.

The Nov. 11 event was highlighted by musical performances by Rusty Rein and T.J. Weger as well as Tarpon Springs High School students Mary-Kelly Reimel, Andrew Kelly and Caeden Ottens, plus speeches by Tarpon Springs Police Department Major Jeffrey Young, Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Powell and Mayor Chris Alahouzos.

They were followed by a post-ceremony barbecue organized by the Tarpon Springs Elks Lodge.

Following an invocation by Chaplin Milton Smith to open the ceremony, Young delivered an emotional speech that paid tribute to the men and women who have served their county.

“We bow our heads and thank those who have served and pray for those that made the ultimate sacrifice in unselfish service to this great nation,” he said, adding, “my hope and wish is that we carry forth our appreciation for our service members and veterans every day of the year.”

“You see, it was not too long ago that we fought in world wars, and we continue to fight on many fronts today where freedom as we know it is challenged by those who oppose our way of life,” Young continued.

“It is sad to watch the news today, when every day someone is trying to divide our country. But have faith. The strength of our resolve as one nation is far stronger than they would have you believe.”

After Powell read an official proclamation from President Donald Trump, Alahouzos recognized several local officials in attendance, including Commissioner Rea Sieber, City Manager Mark LeCouris and Police Chief Robert Kochen. The mayor then asked the crowd to “take a moment to remember the sacrifice of men and women who have made America the greatest country in the world” before calling for a moment of silence.

The ceremony concluded with Ottens and Kelly playing “Taps” and the police and fire department honor guards retiring the colors before the crowd dispersed to the back of the park for the barbecue.