Flag painting highlights event honoring veterans


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Veterans had the opportunity to paint a few of the stars of a 190-foot by 100-foot American flag at the inaugural Suntree Veterans Day Celebration at Jack Mahon Park. There were enough veterans to stand on each of the 50 stars.

Bob Parente

Hundreds spent Veterans Day honoring American heroes at the inaugural Suntree Veterans Day Celebration at Jack Mahon Park.

The event featured a program that included a Patriot Guard flag line, the National Anthem and invocation that preceded words from guest speakers, including Kay Hilbrandt, who served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot or “WASP,” and Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith.

“We’ve got freedoms today that probably a few countries in this world aspire to,” Smith said. “You just can’t say enough of our veterans and what they’ve done for us.”

But perhaps the highlight of the event involved the painting of what Suntree Master Homeowners Association facilities director Mike Beasy said was a large 190-foot by 100-foot American flag on the park grass by organizers. A few of the stars were left unpainted prior to the event on purpose so that veterans could come and paint them.

“It’s awesome for what the flag stands for,” said Richard MacDonald of Suntree, who served for seven years in the Air Force and who helped paint one of the stars. “It stands for all the good stuff that America’s about.”

In addition to the ceremonial events, a car show featuring cars owned by veterans also was held. Free refreshments were donated by local businesses, according to organizers.

The event was put on by the Suntree Master HOA. The association members believed there needed to be an event in the area to honor military heroes.

“We love our veterans,” said Susie Parente, who serves as the association’s social and marketing director and who helped organize the event. “They’re the stars of our community, (and) we wanted them to paint our stars.”

“Todd Foley is our general manager and he’s been wanting to do something like this for a long, long time and we felt this was the time to do it,” added Forrest Miles, a veteran of the Korean War, who also serves as president of the association’s board of directors. “Very big endeavor of putting this flag out. Our staff did all the painting and we think everybody’s going to enjoy it.”