by Lois A. Bolin
Old Naples Historian
When I think of Christmas, my memories ultimately drift to, of all people, Bob Hope. It would be hard to believe there has been or will ever be anyone one more beloved or more closely associated with the American GI than Bob with his USO shows running from pre-Pearl Harbor attack all the way through Desert Storm.
In 1997, the U.S. Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the “first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces.” Although Bob is no longer with us, he is in spirit and it is with this Spirit of Hope, I’d like to say to the following, “Thanks for the memories.”
To the Museum of Military Memorabilia and Holocaust Museum of SWFL, thank you for keeping the Spirit of ’45 Alive. To the Longshore Lake Homeowner’s Association, thank you for championing the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. No doubt other HOAs will follow your lead. Well done, Seacrest Country Day School and the Village School of Naples for embracing the Florida History Fair and fighting cultural amnesia.
The Old Naples Waterfront Association Board, presenters of the now World Famous Stonecrab Festival, deserves a special shout out for their collaborative outreach, especially Jennie Fogen and Jason Camp. This year’s festival added a new element called, Charity Row, which featured several non for profits including PAWS Assistance Dogs for Veterans and the Freedom Memorial. Also included in this glowing mix was Hodges University’s American Legion Post 397, the only Legion Post on a university campus in Florida and one of two in the country. Once again these Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans served the pubic by manning the parking for the festival.
Perhaps the greatest glow of happiness comes from the history making Collier County Honor Flight, which successfully compressed an eight months process into six weeks, which culminated this past November 9th. Founders, Dr. Debi Strand and Sean Lux, both veterans, led their volunteer troop through this mission impossible turned possible, as Honorary Chair, Wayne O. Smith, veteran, provided the Spirit of Hope by paraphrasing Ronald Reagan: If not us – who? If not now – when?
Here’s wishing you and yours a simple and great glow of happiness this Christmas and Holiday Season.
Lois A. Bolin, Ph.D., is a proud American with Legacy Options
LLC, who promotes the value of local history and its role for economic