Patriot’s Pier at Sunset Point
By Mike Cosentino
Twice each day, we proudly honor the sacrifices of our military and service personnel in protecting our country and our freedoms. Every morning at 8:00 AM we raise our flag to Reveille. At sunset, we lower it to Taps.
We are the land of the free because of the brave. On December 7th, our flag was at half-staff in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. On that fateful day in 1941, 2,403 U.S. personnel were killed and 19 U.S. Navy ships were damaged or destroyed. Not unlike 9/11, we will never forget.
As a kid, my dad told me of his principle crying over the intercom as he announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Like many, my dad had his folks forge his papers, and joined the Navy, and the fight, at age 16.
He died without ever sharing his wartime experiences beyond, “You don’t want to know.”
Captain Ralph Styles, who began our flag ceremony over 30 years ago, was at Pearl Harbor that day. As a submarine commander, he went on to sink 11 Japanese ships in the war, and before he retired to Siesta Key was the commander of the entire Pacific Fleet. There’s a plaque by the gazebo in the Village commemorating his service and accomplishments.
Among my last, best memories of my folks was an evening we spent with Captain Styles and his daughter Annie after his flag ceremony. About 12 years ago, Captain Styles and my dad passed away. We not only lost two pillars of our community, but the flag ceremony went away, too.
When I bought the pier property several years ago, my first goal was to seek Annie’s blessing to revive her father’s flag ceremony. She agreed, and joined the Sons of the American Revolution and several Veterans in dedicating our new flag and pole on December 17, 2017.
The Covid quagmire has her stuck in Maine, but Annie, if you’re reading this, we love you, we miss you, and we eagerly await your return. Especially in these contentious times, our ceremony provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate our common ground as citizens of these United States of America and to pay tribute to those who provide the blanket of freedom under which we peacefully sleep.
P.S. Please join us if you can. Enter “10 Beach Road” into Google Maps for directions. Our nightly ceremony can be seen on Facebook at “Patriot’s Pier at Sunset Point.” Should anyone wish to have us fly the flag of your loved one on his/her birthday, please leave me a message at (941) 346-2584. ‘Merica!!