By Bari Auerbach
“Thank you for your military service! In the name of freedom and democracy, we owe you an immense debt of gratitude.” The Aventura Marketing Council/World-Class Chamber of Commerce November breakfast meeting hosted by Memorial Healthcare System featured a tribute to members of the military and special address by Major General Michael T. Plehn, U.S. Air Force, Chief of Staff, U. S. Southern Command.
AMC Chair Cliff Schulman of Weiss Serota Helfman joined by Memorial Regional South CEO/Administrator Doug Zaren welcomed service members, veterans and their families gathered with hundreds of business and community leaders at the Newport Beachside Hotel. The inspiring program commenced with the presentation of colors by the Krop Sr. High JROTC and the National Anthem sung by 12-year-old Emily Kaufman, one of the AMC’s Young Stars from their Aventura Mall YOUNG STARS SHOWCASE presented by Mount Sinai Medical Center and platinum sponsor AT&T.
Special appreciation was expressed to Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) leaders including Peter Caspari, Rebecca Heinl and Lt. Col. Cindy Harkrider, also a Florida Army Reserve Gold Star spouse, for their help coordinating the event and encouraging support for the mission of ESGR, “Working to ensure returning heroes have the ability to earn a living – giving them their livelihoods and lives back after they’ve defended ours.” Employers can express their interest in hiring a Florida National Gurad, Reserve and/or veteran on Florida ESGA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/esgrflorida/.
On behalf of the Department of Defense, Caspari presented Memorial Healthcare Systems with the prestigious Seven Seals Award for “Meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve” .
Zaren noted Memorial Healthcare System encompasses over 2,000 physicians, six hospitals and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “I know many people in this room who have received excellent care in our healthcare system,” he said. “On behalf of our CEO Aurelio Fernandez, we’re proud to be your host today.”
AMC members proceeded to salute the illustrious military career of Mag. Gen. Plehn. A recipient of major awards and decorations, he is revered for being an outstanding leader and patriot. “Veterans are some of the most capable, driven and talented people who can perform under pressure,” Plehn said. “Bring it on! They will deliver. They can plan and manage large scale projects and build problem-solving teams. As they return home, they’re looking for good jobs. Their incredible skills and diverse capabilities would be an asset to any company. We deeply appreciate your continued support as we work as a community to help our service members remain here in South Florida and serve our country and community in new ways.
“I believe America has the greatest gifts in the world: the gift of freedom, and equally as precious, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsmen and civilians who safeguard that gift of freedom and liberty. Our country will forever remain the land of the free and the home of the brave so long as we never run out of tough young Americans willing to go into the darkest, most dangerous corners of the world to defend us against those who would do us harm.”
On a very patriotic closing note, AMC members applauded as young men and women from the U.S. Army and Navy Recruitment Command took the Oath of Enlistment administered by Plehn, who proclaimed, “Welcome to the military!”