NORTH PORT —It wasn’t planned, but the gun salute flushed a group of five white birds from a nearby tree.

Off they flew over Tamiami Trail as a crowd of nearly 200 people looked on.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8203’s annual salute to veterans brought a large crowd, which lined the banks of the pond in Veterans Park, adjacent to the North Port Public Library at 13640 Tamiami Trail. It has become a North Port Veterans Day tradition.

Amid the customary playing of taps, the national anthem and raising of the colors, Richard Betrosian, chaplain of the post, gave a rousing summary of “What Is A Veteran?”

From the Revolutionary War to the Middle East conflicts, Betrosian outlined what it meant for men and women to serve the nation and to put duty above all else.

“They didn’t fire at those before them out of hatred,” he said. “They fired because they loved those they left behind.”

As the closing prayer wrapped up the service and the crowd filed out, the five white birds flew over the crowd and returned to their perch in the park.

Email: tom.harmening@yoursun.com

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