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Patriotism runs high at veterans events

Gov. Jeb Bush and thousands of yelling, flag-waving Floridians honored this nation's military Monday at a Veterans Day parade through downtown Jacksonville.

In Pensacola, veterans broke ground for a World War II memorial expected to be completed in a year.

The governor and Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney led the two-hour Jacksonville parade, whose grand marshal was Jennifer Carroll, director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

"It is fitting to be in Jacksonville, which is the most patriotic city in a patriotic state," said Bush, who noted that more than 1.8-million veterans live in Florida.

Military veterans, office workers and parents with children in tow waved flags and cheered as each unit passed.

"This is a good day," Leo Depasquale, 75, of Jacksonville said as he watched military units roll by. Depasquale, who served in the Navy from 1943 to 1966, said he was pleased with the reawakening of patriotism.

Deanna Carter, 26, brought her sister, Wendy Ferrell, 18, and her three children, Michael, 6, Courtney, 3, and William, 4 months.

"Our grandfather fought in World War II," Carter said. "That's why we are here."

Some of the largest cheers came for Pearl Harbor survivors, some of whom marched while others rode in several cars.

Carroll, who served in the Navy in Jacksonville before losing a race for Congress, called the civilian turnout "heartwarming."

In Pensacola, a parade and groundbreaking for the $500,000 World War II memorial highlighted holiday events.

The memorial will feature five statues representing military personnel in Admiral Mason Park near memorials for World War I and the Vietnam War. The latter is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

Retired Vice Adm. Jack Fetterman, president of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation in Pensacola, drew a parallel between World War II and the current fight against terrorism.

"Right now our country is high. The flag is high. Patriotism is high," Fetterman said. "Adversity creates character, and we saw that during the war, and we've seen it in this country since Sept. 11."