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Veterans Day festivities celebrated in Collier County

Posted at 3:52 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 03:52:53-05

COLLIER CO., Fla. — Veterans Day events continued on in Collier County where a special pinning ceremony took place at the Arlington of Naples.

That ceremony saw dozens of veterans who served receiving a commemorative pin.

Inside a packed auditorium, veterans from all branches of military gathered on the day named in their honor. For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic they were back to continue this yearly tradition.

“This pinning ceremony is just an example of the love we have for the people who served for us," said Jessica Short, Executive Director of the Arlington. "We’re so glad that they could be here and that there’s a room full of veterans and those that love them to enjoy this moment with us.”

One of those veterans in attendance was William “Bill” Eckstrom. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 during the Korean War. Trained as an infantry man, he was ready for combat but Bill was one of the fortunate ones to not see combat. Instead he was stationed at Fort Knox.

“I was a cadre to train new recruits coming in during part of my service," said Eckstrom. "Then part of the time I was an administrative assistant to a hospital administrator so I had a variety of jobs. Even spent one summer as a lifeguard at a swimming pool… not too bad. That’s pretty good duty!”

Also in attendance was Dwight Richardson. Dwight served in Korea as well, having played in one of the Marine Corp. bands.

“I suddenly realized- or maybe it came to mind that- once you’re a veteran, you’re always a veteran," said Richardson. "Even though I only served the two years and my reserved time got excused because I served in Korea. You get connected and reconnected and really have an understanding of what you really did that you didn’t really know about when you were doing it.”

But no matter the service the honorary feeling was mutual among all.

"Some of us have served in different capacities," says Eckstrom. "Fortunately, I never had to go into combat but I really admire those men who did serve in combat and I’m happy they did because I’ve got a great country to live in now.”