By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a day of remembrance, honor and service across South Florida for all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In Miami Beach a parade stepped off from Ocean Drive, honoring the men and women who answered the call.

And in Fort Lauderdale a big thank you to those families that made sacrifices for life, liberty and peace.

“We’re here to commemorate the lives of those who did not come back from wars that the United States had been in and those who are still alive, like myself and counterparts,” said veteran Jose Perez-Ortiz.

At American Legion Post 180 in Fort Lauderdale, members remembered those who never returned.

“A POW/MIA empty chair is placed all official meetings of the American Legion as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POWS and MIA’s still unaccounted for,” a veteran explained.

In addition to the parades and ceremonies, Monday is also a day for service to those who served.

Hundreds of volunteers from Home Depot and Rebuilding Together Broward fanned out across South Florida and the country to spruce up American Legion and VFW halls as well as the homes of vets who could use a hand.

“Today we’re working with every Home Depot store across the country to serve veterans who served our country on Veterans Day,” said Robin Martin with Rebuilding Together Broward. “We’re helping them beautify, helping them to make their home healthy and safe.”

At American Legion Post 180, they added a new coat of paint and freshened up the building. They also added a few surprises, like a new grill with a handcrafted patriotic cover, compliments of a Home Depot employee who painted it.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ We were going to do it on our own, but we were saving our nickels and dimes to get enough money to do it, but Home Depot came in with the help of Rebuilding Together Broward and it was awesome,” said veteran Robert Jervah.

Carol Hemmis was in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam era.

Volunteers visited her Dania Beach home to give it a makeover.

“We’re painting the house, the outside and then my laundry room which needed to be painted, they’re finishing up painting the fence,” she said. “They’re planting flowers around my shed, underneath my palm tree, out front we dug up some flowers putting in new flowers.”

Hemmis is thrilled with all the work around her house and the Home Depot employees who are donating their time are happy to do it.

“A lot of time we feel they need an extra helping hand and this is a way that we can all pitch in, help out,” said volunteer Raymond Lyons.

Jose Cardozo is a volunteer and veteran.  He thinks this “celebration of service” as it’s called is a great way to say thanks.

“It seems sometimes we forget about veterans and we just think about them twice a year. This way we give all year round,” he said. “We always look for that person who requires special little help just to up keep the house. It’s a great feeling.”

Ted Scouten

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