Hundreds gather at Sumter Co. cemetery to observe Veteran's Day



SUMTER COUNTY, Fla.,None - As the nation observed Veterans Day on Friday, hundreds of people from all over the state gathered in Sumter County.

WFTV reporter Berndt Petersen was at Friday morning's special ceremony at the Florida National Cemetery.

The Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell covers 500 acres, and more than 100,000 service men and women were laid to rest there. 

On Veterans Day, many family members were there to pay their respects.

Mike Clark said he never misses a national holiday. It's time he sets aside for his son.

"Very loving. He always put a smile on my face," Clark said.

Lance Corporal Philip Clark was only 20 years old when he was killed in Afghanistan.

There were many stories like the Clark family's at the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Florida National Cemetery.

"We gather on this day not to celebrate a great military victory or a national conquest, but to honor all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who served in our nation's armed forces since the founding of the republic," said Brigadier General James Lariviere.

Traditions run deep at the cemetery, and its hallowed ground is set aside for heroes such as Army Private Christian Diaz.

"He was a great father, a great son.  We come every Memorial Day, every Veterans Day even the 4th of July, we're still coming here," said Christian Diaz's father, Wilfredo Diaz.

The honor and respect shown to all who served was strong no matter which generation or which war was being remembered.

Amid the tears, Clark stayed strong.

"It's sad we lost him.  But I can go back and think about the times we were together and all the fun we had from him growing up to being the man he was when he was serving our country," said Clark.

On Saturday, hundreds of people will march through the streets of Orlando for the city's Veterans Day parade.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will join veterans in the event.

Opening ceremonies start at 10:45 a.m. at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard.

The parade through downtown starts at 11:00 a.m.