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Tony Orlando (right) gets up close and personal with Ben and Alder Ritter.
Reprinted from PN January 2010

Past, present, and future veterans and their families and friends attended the 3rd Annual Military Day & Veterans’ Resource Fair in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

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A large crowd attended the 3rd Annual Military Day & Veterans’ Resource Fair in Tarpon Springs, Fla., last summer. Past, present, and future veterans and their families and friends were invited.

The room at East Lake High School was filled with display tables manned by representatives from veterans’ service organizations (VSOs). Service officers were on hand to answer questions. Military hardware was displayed, and attendees viewed a military flyover, parachute drop, drill team, and color and honor guard presentations. They enjoyed free pizza and soft drinks. Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored the event.


Florida Gulf Coast PVA staff offer information during a special event in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

The highlight was a spirited talk by pop singer and veterans’ advocate Tony Orlando. The auditorium was packed. Orlando told the story about how Bob Hope telephoned and invited him to sing “Tie A Yellow Ribbon.” This was in the early 1970s, just at the time when the song had begun to hit the charts. Hope wanted him to sing it at a homecoming event in Texas for the U.S. troops who had just been released from a North Vietnamese prison.

Orlando said at first he didn’t believe it was Hope, calling from out of nowhere. But Hope convinced him, and Orlando went to Texas. He recalled how everyone applauded when he sang these words from his signature song: “I’m coming home, I’ve done my time.” Everyone but one guy in the front row.

After that performance, Orlando asked Hope why the guy in the front row hadn’t clapped. Hope said he hadn’t a clue and suggested Orlando go down to the floor and ask.

Orlando left the stage and spoke to the guy—John McCain. McCain said he loved the song but couldn’t applaud. His arms had been pulled out of his shoulder sockets by the North Vietnamese prison guards, and he was still healing.

 


 

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