Stories of hope, resolve and remembrance mark the week | Editorial
A roundup of highlights of the week across Tampa Bay and Florida.
Jasmin Cervantes-García, a Wimauma teen, is recovering after she survived an accident in Mexico that killed her parents.
Jasmin Cervantes-García, a Wimauma teen, is recovering after she survived an accident in Mexico that killed her parents. [ Courtesy of Daisy Vega ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published May 27

Jasmin’s next steps. Jasmin Cervantes-García’s recovery is not complete, but her determination and family’s support has inspired the entire Tampa Bay area. The 13-year-old girl from Wimauma, in southern Hillsborough County, lost her parents and grandparents after a June 23 crash in Mexico as they headed back to Tampa after visiting relatives. Jasmin remained in a Mexican hospital for weeks before being flown home and receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. She has gradually regained her strength, as the Times’ Juan Carlos Chavez has chronicled, and this month, received a device from a nonprofit that will help her mobility. The Bioness L300 Go is an electrical stimulation tool that emits low-level electrical pulses to help a patient to walk. The donation was made during a Freedom to Walk Foundation event, and the nonprofit’s founder, Daisy Vega, said the group was “incredibly grateful” for the donation, as these devices are cost-prohibitive for most. This is another great development that helps turn a page from this tragedy, and we wish Jasmin well — and this community’s continued attention.

Career plucking trash? It’s about time the city of Tampa changed a so-called jobs training program that paid teenagers to pick up trash. The Career Explorations program, started in 2006, is run by the city’s East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency, which is funded and operated by the city. Teens get paid $15 an hour for summer work; the goal is to provide real-life experience to prepare for careers. But as the Times reported this week, teens in the predominantly Black East Tampa community were paid to work in the sun, collecting trash and maintaining grounds. After an outcry from community and city council members, the program is poised for a reset. Starting next summer, the city will offer new opportunities, including administrative and office jobs. A coordinator will refocus the program on career development, and teens will be exposed to a broader circle of city departments and professions. The council needs to ensure these promises come to fruition.

Calling “Swamp Thing.” Even the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has a Florida story. In January 1991, then-Air Force Capt. CQ Brown Jr., readied to eject from a burning F-16 fighter jet high above the Florida Everglades. As The Associated Press recounted, Brown looked down at the alligator-chocked wetlands and mused: “Hope there’s nothing down there.” He landed in the muck, which earned Brown his call sign. Now “Swamp Thing” is poised to become America’s top military officer, after President Joe Biden nominated him for the post Thursday in the Rose Garden. If confirmed, Brown, now a four-star general and the Air Force chief, would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley. And the Air Force’s first Black chief of staff would be part of another first — the first time the Pentagon’s top two posts (together with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin) were held by African Americans. Florida is proud (and amused) to have played such a small, but iconic, part of this illustrious career.

Caps and gowns. One of the bright spots this time of year are the pictures of all those young men and women lining up in caps and gowns to receive their high school diplomas. Graduation ceremonies are moments of pride, joy, melancholy, relief, apprehension — virtually every human emotion that comes with seeing a child, sibling or friend enter a new and irrevocable phase of their life. One day the routines, the relationships, the expectations and obligations — they all just suddenly change. And the world becomes a bigger, richer place. These graduation pictures capture that moment, and it’s why so many connect with the graduates across Tampa Bay, and why everyone is pulling for your success.

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Honor Memorial Day. This weekend’s Memorial Day holiday marks many things on the calendar, from the end of the school year to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. But it’s real significance is to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day, the tradition began after the Civil War, as family and friends visited cemeteries, decorating the graves of the fallen with flowers. The holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. Floridians should especially reflect upon this day; Florida has the third-largest veterans population in the nation (1.5 million), behind only California and Texas. Let’s remember the sacrifice of these brave and extended family members.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.