The “True Spirit of America”


Lou Worthington, right, of Gulfport’s Community Emergency Response Team, sprays an American flag with lighter fluid and supervises the burning portion of the Flag Day ceremony at Veteran’s Park on Wednesday morning, June 14. Left, American Legion District Sergeant of Arms Lloyd Cole, stand at the ready to assist, if needed. 

When you see the smoke and a flag go up in flames, it’s not really the end but the rebirth of new flags that will take its place flying high with dignity,” said Yolanda Roman, Gulfport Councilmember from Ward 3 during the city’s Flag Day ceremony in Veteran’s Park on Wednesday, June 14.

“It’s really that emotional to me,” she said.

Michael Fridovich, Gulfport Councilmember from Ward 4, echoed her sentiment about the ceremony.

“It’s a way to celebrate the flag but more importantly, it’s a way to celebrate what I consider to be the most important part of the flag, the first 10 amendments that go with it – the Bill of Rights,” said Fridovich. “The flag is more of a symbol and sometimes we spend more time looking at the symbol and not the teeth of the situation.”

Roman and Fridovich both spoke during the ceremony. Fridovich served in the Army during the Vietnam years.

Six members of the American Legion Post 125 of Gulfport, provided a gun salute during the Flag Day ceremony on Wednesday morning, June 14.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, did not attend the event but sent a letter to Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson that was read by Fridovich.

“The Stars and Stripes is an embodiment of the true spirit of America,” Nelson wrote. “Today, we remember not only the flag but those individuals that made it a symbol of greatness.”

Catherine and Ralph Bassett of Gulfport sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” Ralph is a Navy veteran and served in the Vietnam years as a corpsman, which is an enlisted medical specialist.

“He’s well qualified to sing for this occasion,” said Catherine.

Both are retired from the New York City Opera.

The New Horizon Band of Gulfport provided live music and Chris Sheppard, a trumpet player, sang “I’m Proud to be an American.”

Flag Day “is one of our best patriotic holidays,” said Ralph. “Everybody should fly the flag, stand and salute it.”


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