Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Concert shows appreciation for veterans' sacrifices

Albert Naywick, 94, of Tampa, enjoys the Southern Souls Band during the Military Appreciation Day Concert on Sunday. Naywick was a prisoner of war of the Japanese during World War II.


Albert Naywick, 94, of Tampa, enjoys the Southern Souls Band during the Military Appreciation Day Concert on Sunday. Naywick was a prisoner of war of the Japanese during World War II.

TAMPA — Joel Tavera sat humbly among fellow service men and women as Mayor Bob Buckhorn worked his way through the crowd to shake his hand.

Tavera, an Army sergeant who lost his right leg, four fingers and eyesight in a rocket attack in Iraq three years ago, had met the Tampa mayor a handful of times; he recited the Pledge of Allegiance at his inauguration earlier this year. The two spoke briefly, the mayor reminding Tavera to invite him to the opening of the veteran's new house in Tampa.

Buckhorn greeted more vets — some in wheelchairs, others with prosthetic limbs, others with emotional scars from what they suffered in battle.

His attendance Sunday at the Military Appreciation Day Concert, a charitable effort to raise money for the Valrico-based nonprofit group Supporting America's Finest, was the least the mayor said he could do to honor those who sacrifice much of their own way of life for the cause of freedom.

"We have a good life because of you — not just you, but the generations of you who came before," Buckhorn said in addressing the crowd and noting Tampa's history with the military. "My kids will have a better America because of your sacrifice."

Veterans attended the public concert for free. Admission fees from the rest of the more than 200 people in attendance will go toward support for the Traumatic Brain Injury and Recreational Therapy Unit at James A. Haley VA Medical Center, said Lou Ramos, a retired Air Force colonel and the organization's founder.

So far this year, the group has raised $50,000, with plans to give $10,000 to the hospital, Ramos said.

The event featured a performance from the Southern Souls Band, a five-man rock ensemble that kept the crowd hopping with covers of John Mellencamp, Sugar Ray and other popular artists.

For Tavera, the main draw was the evening's headliner, Theresa Sareo, a singer whose voice he heard personally when he was recovering from his injuries in an Army hospital. Sareo, a New York native, made it her life's work to entertain wounded veterans after she lost her right leg in an auto accident in 2002.

"It's inspirational talking to her," Tavera said. "She understands us."

In prefacing a song she wrote titled Still on My Way, Sareo echoed the sentiments of some of the evening's speakers, saying it's a song about being on a journey.

"It's OK not to have the answers to why," she said. "As long as you're on the journey, and going down the road, the answers get revealed to you."

It was the same message that Ron Ray, a Vietnam veteran and former assistant secretary of veterans affairs, gave the military attendees when he talked about being wounded in battle and later suffering the effects of malaria.

"I thought my service was over," Ray said. "I thought I could not recover from such a debilitating thing."

He learned to keep going by doing good for others, he said.

"If you keep going, there is life," Ray said. "Never give up, there is life."

Dan Sullivan can be reached at or (813) 226-3321.

Concert shows appreciation for veterans' sacrifices 08/21/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 21, 2011 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.