Veterans Day has come and gone but Okeechobee has a project that honors veterans for the entire month of November.
Called Okeechobee Downtown Heroes, it’s coordinated by Okeechobee Main Street Inc. and features banners of local veterans hanging around the downtown area.
Tara Holliday’s great-uncle, Earl Hansel, is featured on one of the banners.
“Hero. That’s what he is,” Holliday said when asked about her great-uncle’s military service. “He was a no-guff kind of guy. The family was very proud of him is very proud of him.”
Hansel served in World War II with the Navy, then came back home to Okeechobee and then re-enlisted in the Army to serve in the Korean War.
However, Hansel didn’t make it home from the Korean War. He was captured by enemy forces in 1951 and died in a prisoner-of-war camp.
Hansel’s family friend, Gregg Maynard, is also an Army veteran and reflected on Hansel’s service.
“A remarkable story of a man who didn’t have to go,” Maynard said. “To have that much conviction to want to serve, that speaks volumes.”
Army veteran Marty Faulkner is among the dozens of banners you’ll see dedicated to those from Okeechobee who have served.
“When people see your name, your face there and it has U.S. Army attached, what do you want them to know about your service?” WPTV anchor Mike Trim asked Faulker.
“Just that I served, that I supported our country,” Faulker answered. “It’s a big honor that we do this in our community. Okeechobee is a tight community, and it’s a very patriotic community, so I appreciate it.”
Faulkner’s son and father-in-law also have banners up for their military service.
It’s an honor for everyone living in, or just passing through, Okeechobee to see all month.