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Okaloosa County to honor women veterans with annual ceremony next week

Fort Walton Beach, Florida – Okaloosa County is inviting the public to the 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Day ceremony, a significant event dedicated to celebrating the valor and commitment of women who have served the United States military. This year’s event, scheduled for June 12, 2024, at 8 a.m., promises to be a poignant reminder of the sacrifices and contributions of these brave women. The ceremony will take place at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center and will be followed by a solemn wreath-laying at the nearby Women Veterans Monuments in Veterans Park.

A Tribute to Women Veterans

The Women Veterans’ Day was officially recognized by the State of Florida following a proclamation from Governor Ron DeSantis in 2021. The day is set aside to honor the often-underrepresented group of women veterans, acknowledging their critical roles across various conflicts and their continued influence in shaping military and civilian spheres.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel of Okaloosa County highlighted the importance of the event: “This event focuses on a group of veterans who may have been overlooked by others in the past. We want to recognize these women and let them know that their service has not been forgotten and in Okaloosa County, they will always have our support.”

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The ceremony is part of a broader initiative to ensure that the sacrifices of women veterans are acknowledged and celebrated. In 2021, Okaloosa County unveiled the Women Veterans Monuments at Veterans Park, which features life-sized bronze statues of eight women who served in combat during various U.S. military conflicts. These statues are set along a scenic quarter-mile path, enhanced by the natural beauty of the area, including a nearby great blue heron rookery.

Special Focus on Vietnam Veterans

This year, the ceremony will include a special focus on the Vietnam War Commemoration, honoring the service and sacrifice of the nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families. The commemoration is part of a continued national recognition that runs through Veterans Day, November 11, 2025, marking the 50th anniversary of the departure of the last American troops from Vietnam.

Among the honored at the park is Sharon Ann Lane, the only American nurse killed by direct enemy fire during the Vietnam War. Lane served with distinction at the 312th Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai on April 29, 1969, and was awarded multiple honors posthumously, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with “V” device, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, among others. Her dedication and service exemplify the courage and commitment of women in the military.

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The event not only provides a platform to remember and honor these women but also educates the community about the rich history and profound impact of women veterans. For more information about the Women Veterans Monuments and the stories of these remarkable women, visitors can go online to the Okaloosa County website dedicated to the memorial.

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