Piece of the USS Arizona unveiled before Florence Veteran’s Day ceremony

Exhibit honoring USS Arizona unveiled at Florence County Veterans Day ceremony

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Since the end of World War I, on the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month in 1918, our country has celebrated Veterans Day.

The year 2020 has been a challenging one, but that didn’t stop veterans and supporters in the Pee Dee from celebrating those who’ve served and currently serve.

The keynote speaker was former West Point Superintendent, retired Lt. General and current president of the University of South Carolina, Robert Caslan.

Caslan said when each veteran raises their right hand, they understand there are things worth dying for.

“Whether it is country or democracy or liberty or the ability to worship, how we choose without prejudice or persecution, each knows the risk to our nation and citizens and each knows the sacrifice necessary to preserve it," said Caslan.

While this year’s ceremony was held inside the Florence Center due to the weather, that didn’t stop people from stopping by the Florence Veterans Park to see its newest addition.

A piece of the USS Arizona, which sank during the attack at Pearl Harbor, was unveiled on Wednesday and now resides in the park.

“They cut a piece off the bulwark of the Arizona and said we’ll donate it to the Florence Veterans Park, but you’ve got to get it there," said retired Col. Barringer Wingard.

Wingard said getting the piece here was a challenge. After six months of trying to get it to Florence things weren’t looking good.

“Then I called another international mover by the name of UPS and they put me in touch with a lady from Atlanta and within a week they said they’d move the piece of the Arizona, and they did," said Wingard.

Vanessa Hawkins, the UPS employee who helped get the piece to Florence, came all the way from Atlanta to be a part of the ceremony.

Another person in the crowd of supporters was military wife and mother Mildred Steele. Steele had the pictures of her late husband and children taped to her red, white, and blue sweater. Each of them were veterans.

A person who has seen the sacrifices, Stele said thank you to those who’ve served and are serving in our nation’s military.

“God bless them all and thank them all. Thanks for everything they’ve done and given. Some even gave their life," said Steele.

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