NORTH PORT — Through commitment and perseverance, Lazy River resident Bob Stanko has fully realized the first veterans memorial for the Lazy River community featuring its own ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday.
In dedication to the various World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans in Lazy River, Stanko has raised awareness and funds for the project since October 2017, bringing together those who have served in the military and the people who appreciate them every day.
While not a veteran himself, serving as a police officer during the Vietnam War, Stanko believed that there should be something in honor of his neighbors.
In coordination with Veterans Day, the Sunday ceremony will be given in Lazy River to commemorate the new memorial and the veterans it represents.
Present will be members of the North Port High School Band as well North Port Navy JROTC for a gun salute. Speeches will be given as well by a local minister and from Joe Abbruzzese, the Lazy River Board of Directors president.
A full reveal will be given of the 129 bricks ordered by residents and relatives of veterans alongside the flagpole and marble-based plaques.
Throughout the process, Stanko has worked close with other residents including Rich Donelson, Carl Redenbo, and Board Director Glen Knoepfle to ensure construction and funds are accomplished. Most donations were provided by members of the small community and construction began Oct. 1.
A main focus of the memorial is also commemorating the nine living WWII veterans in Lazy River, their ages ranging from 93 to 98.
“This is going to be a special day to pay tribute to those who served in past wars, protecting the freedom we enjoy today,” Rich Donelson said about the ceremony in a November Lazy River newsletter. “Please make every effort to attend and show your support.”
The ceremony will be open to the public, and bricks are still being sold, although they will be installed past the November ceremony date.
With already more than eight bricks on the way, there will be another small ceremony held on Memorial Day in 2019.
“We appreciate what they did for us,” Stanko said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”