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Program honors veterans at Heritage Park

Above, Robert Osborn (left) of Jacksonville and Karl Joyce of Macclenny meet in a tearful reunion. Both attended Robert E. Lee High in Riverside.A modest but patriotic crowd turned out at Macclenny’s Heritage Park at midday on April 21 for the second annual Korean and Vietnam veteran appreciation day.

With the theme, “Freedom is not Free,” the program organized by Jessie and Karl Joyce included speeches by veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, a special tribute to the missing in action and other recognitions.

Mrs. Joyce planned to have just the single event last year, but public demand led to the second annual tribute in 2012. “And I enjoy doing it,” she said.

Mrs. Joyce got the idea for the first tribute after a visit to Jacksonville International Airprot to welcome home returning vets.

“We would go to the airport and greet them and wave flags,” she said.

But it made her remember how Vietnam and Korean War veterans were not greeted in the the same way.

“They were never welcomed home,” she said. “They were spit on when they came home.”

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Expedition team’s cross-state trek ends here

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team reached Ocean Pond in west Baker County last week after embarking from the southern tip of the Everglades and heading north last Photographer Carlton Ward Jr. (right) presents FDEP Secretary Hershel Vinyard with map of the envisioned Florida Wildlife Corridor.January.

Its goal: travel 1000 miles in 100 days to highlight the state’s natural resources and ongoing efforts to “re-connect and restore the fragmented lands and waters in Florida.”

The state’s natural landscape and water flow has been altered through more than a century of development and the expedition aims to showcase lands already protected while identifying where additional conservation is needed.

The team is documenting the expedition online with photographs, videos and social media updates, all accessible from the expedition’s website  www.floridawildlifecorridor.org.

The expedition team arrived at Ocean Pond the evening of April 12 and met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection [FDEP] Secretary Herschel Vinyard at Olustee Battlefield the following morning.

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Kids flock to Easter Saturday festivities

A host of Easter weekend celebrations took place under sunny skies the morning and afternoon of April 7 at sites around the county.

Destiny People Worship Center’s Egg-stravaganza event at the Baker County Fairgrounds featured many activities for area children including pictures with the Easter Bunny as shown below with sisters Reanna (left) and Journey Green.

Another event by First Baptist Church of Glen St. Mary at Celebration Park in Glen is where the children listened to Pastor Randy Williams speak about the holiday’s Christian roots.

Reanna (left) and Journey Green with the Easter Bunny.Pastor Randy Williams leads the crowd in prayer.David Little of Little Barrels of Fun gave eager children rides on his train around the fairgrounds.Brandon Kazmierczak.See this week’s print edition for more photos from the Easter Saturday activities or click here to view and order prints of all of the photos taken that day.

Graduation redux: Class of 1987 will try it again

The congratulatory notice published in the newspaper after graduation was rained out in 1987.Patricia Hughes Harris of Sanderson and other Baker County High School graduates from the Class of 1987 missed one of the seminal moments in young adulthood.

Due to a bad storm, their graduation ceremony was cut short and they never walked across the stage at Memorial Stadium to receive their high school diplomas as friends and family cheered and congratulated them for the accomplishment.

“We lived nearby in Macclenny, so we walked to graduation,” recalled Ms. Harris, 43, who was joined by her mother and father that day. “But when it came time to walk, it started flooding. Severe flooding. We had to swim home.”

The most disappointing part, she said, was that her mother, who had been so adamant  about Ms. Harris finishing school, never got to the witness the experience. For months afterward, Ms. Harris’ mom lobbied school officials, to no avail, to reschedule the ceremony.

“Nobody cared for years that the Class of 87 never had their graduation,” she said.

Now, 25 years later, it’s happening.

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