Veterans honored at town ceremony

Friday, September 20, 2019 0 Comments

Veterans honored at town ceremony
Banners fly like sentries along Miami Lakes’ main byway, the town’s way of recognizing the service of its veterans and those currently serving in the military.
“Every time I drive my kids down Miami Lakes Drive, they ask ‘Who’s that on the banners? What military branch did they serve in?’” Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid said. “Every street in Miami-Dade County should honor their veterans. It would inspire younger generations to serve their country.”
Cid’s remarks came Sept. 7, during a town ceremony held at Miami Lakes AutoMall to honor the 29 men and women whose names, photographs and branch of service decorated the banners for the past year.
That day, before a crowd of 80 friends and loved ones, veterans, service members or their survivors received replica banners and plaques.
They also received praise that one vet said was slow to come for those who fought in Vietnam.
“We weren’t honored for serving our country,” said Charles James II, who served two tours in Vietnam and retired as a major with the U.S. Army.
The war was so brutal that some vets didn’t talk about it after they got home.
That was true for Luis Senra Sr., who was born in Cuba, graduated from Miami Springs High School, was drafted and was sent to Vietnam.
Luis Senra Jr., said his father never shared any stories with his family about his time in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
“He was a very quiet and humble man,” Luis Senra Jr. said. “He kept everything pretty quiet and to himself. He did it for the best interest for our family.”
The banner project is a personal one for the Senra family.
Fred Senra, a partner at the Miami Lakes AutoMall, has sponsored the installation for $8,000 and will continue to do so next year. Recently, 14 more of the burgundy-colored banners were added to the display that stretches from the entrance of the Palmetto Expressway to Northwest 67th Avenue.
Fred Senra said he would like to see more veterans included in the project so that the banners would fly along the full length of the drive.
Senra retired as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, when he served stateside as an instructor in the Signal Corps. Like his brother Luis Senra Sr., he has a banner that commemorates his military service, too.
“I feel honored,” Fred Serna said.
Luis Senra Sr. died from pancreatic cancer that was attributed to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam, his brother said.
Fred Senra said the idea for the tribute to the armed forces came during a family vacation in California.
“Five years ago, I saw military banners hanging in a town and I told my wife, ‘What a wonderful idea,”’ he said.
“I took some pictures and sent them to council members to see if the town can do this for our veterans,” Fred Senra said, calling the project “a great idea.”
James agreed.
“This is a special honor for me,” said James, a retired public school teacher who is a member of the Miami Lakes Veterans Affairs Committee and the Cultural Affairs Committee. “Any time anyone wants to honor a veteran, I’m there.”
James’ wife Jacqueline said she’s proud of her husband for serving his country and community.
“He’s a magnificent person because he is always giving,” she said.
Luis Senra Jr., said his father’s banner and plaque will hang inside his home.
“It’s amazing to be with these guys for his honor,” said Luis Senra Jr.
Nayib Hassan, chairman of the town’s Veteran Affairs Committee, praised Fred Senra for funding the banner program.
“When the issue came up, we asked, ‘Who’s going to help us?’” Hassan said. “Fred did it. Thank you for your support in honoring our military veterans.”
The veterans and military members shown on the banners hung last year, as well as on the new ones added this season are:
Carlos J. Acosta; James William Baker; Charles F. Ball; Alex Battle; Larry S. Borman; Gary E. Cardenas; Mario A Chavez; LTC Micheal J. Coote; Timothy B. Daubert; George A. Deming; Dr. Martin J. Eisler; Gadiel A. Espinoza; Hector Fernandez; Pedro F. Fiallo; Nelson A. Fonseca; Reynaldo Garcia; Jhonar Gonzalez; Harvey P. Hammer; Fred C. Hannum; Diego Hernandez; Glenn Hommell; Charles H. James; Bob Jones; Rolando J. Machago Jr.; Angel L. Martinez; Evelio Martinez; CPT Michael C. McClure; Edwin Morin Sr.; Carlos Pacheco; Wendy Pantoja; Dennis Polo; Jose A. Ramirez; Helen Rosie Richland; Alejandro Sanchez; Kurt V. Scott; Russell Martin Seipp; Fred Senra; Luis Senra Sr.; Camilo Torres-Ayala; Angel Luis Vazquez; Danielle Vilatoro; Robert E. Wix and Javier Yanes.
To become a part of the project, a veteran or service member must submit proof to the town of his or her honorable discharge and military career. Contact William Sanchez at sanchezw@miamilakes-fl.gov.

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