Military Appreciation Month by Lois Bolin, Ph.D., Old Naples Historian

Florida’s Friendliest County Honors May as Military Appreciation Month

Collier County has many remembrances to celebrate in the month of May. The City of Naples, once called a ‘nothing to do in little town’ in a 1949 Florida Trend magazine article, was also called ‘the little bend in the road’. The road to which they were referring was the Tamiami Trail, completed April 26, 1928, by Baron Gift Collier, whose personal pledge to finish the highway between Tampa and Miami led the Florida State Legislature to create Collier County on May 8, 1923.

On Collier County’s 22nd birthday, there was a bigger celebration Naples shared with America -VE Day- the ending of the WWII in Europe. VE Day is part of several remembrance days in the month of May, which eventually led the United States Congress in 1999 to make May our official National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM).

NMAM’s purpose is to raise awareness and to encourage celebration and appreciation of those who serve or who have served in the armed forces including appreciation days for spouses and families.

In the Merry Month of May

May 1st, Loyalty Day, a day to reaffirm our loyalty to the United States and to recognize the heritage of American freedom.
May 4th, National Day of Prayer.
May 5-11th, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) occurs the first full week of May to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees who ensure that our government is the best in the world.
May 8th, Victory in Europe (VE) Day commemorates the ending of WWII in Europe.
May 10th, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, is traditionally the Friday before Mother’s Day. This day honors and recognizes the important role our military families play in keeping our Armed Forces strong.
May 12th, Mother’s Day.
May 18th, Armed Forces Day is celebrated the third Saturday in May for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.
May 27th, 2024, Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May, which commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. Collier County Veterans Council will host its Memorial Day tribute on May 27th at Naples Memorial Garden at 10 a.m. No reservations are required.

On behalf of local veterans, their families and supporting organizations, SWFL Veterans Alliance and VFW Post 7721 Auxiliary, is requesting a proclamation from Collier County Commissioner Chairman, Chris Hall, for National Military Appreciation Month. The intent is to raise awareness of this special month and to encourage families, businesses, and groups to create their own appreciation program at home, in the classroom, or the office.

Our Veteran friendly community comes together not just with words but also with deeds throughout the year to honor the profound debt of gratitude we have for our military, their spouses, and their families. A few of the programs include Honor Flights, Freedom Memorial 9/11, Wreaths Across America, Take a Soldier Fishing, Veterans Day Poppies, overseas care packages, RT (real time) gift cards and Christmas spirit support. These groups show their appreciation to our military, veterans and their families’ strength and resolve, which reflects the best of the American spirit.

Ways to support NMAM
Display the American Flag at your home or business; show your support on social media with #MilitaryAppreciationMonth; share, like, comment, post, and re-post on social media to put a spotlight on NMAM events and observances; send a care package to a soldier or call *VFW Post 7721 Auxiliary for assistance; encourage elected officials at all levels to recognize our military and veterans; see someone in uniform thank them for their service; surprise them with a coffee, dessert, or drink if they are in line with you; businesses can honor and recognize the month through their websites, social media, and newsletters; donate to a veteran or military charity; or hire a Veteran.

But Wait; There’s More
Our Collier County Commissioners are hard at work to get a State Veterans’ Nursing Home and Adult Day Health Care facility on the property located on Golden Gate Parkway and 951 as well as a Collier County Veterans Services Center, which could house the Military Museum now located at the Naples Airport.
Commissioner Saunders stated, “This veterans’ campus would provide synergy in meeting nearly all veteran-related needs,” and surely give Naples, Collier County the honor of being called the Friendliest Veteran County in Florida.

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