Flagler County residents had an array of activites from which to choose on Veterans Day Weekend, including a veterans appreciation breakfast hosted Thursday by the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, a three-day observance at the Elks Lodge in Palm Coast that began Friday, and formal ceremonies in Bunnell and Palm Coast.

America's military veterans in general, and one Flagler County veteran in particular, were the focus of events Friday during the county's Veterans Day celebration at the Government Services building in Bunnell as local historian Sisco Deen, an Air Force veteran, was named the county's 2017 Veteran of the Year.

On Saturday, U.S. Rep Ron DeSantis was among the speakers at Heroes Memorial Park during Palm Coast’s ceremony to recognize and remember the sacrifices of veterans.

“We’re reminded on Veteran’s Day that we can have all the great ideas in the world,” DeSantis said. “We have a great Declaration of Independence, we have a great Constitution … But the thing is none of those ideas are going to carry the day if we don’t have people who are willing to put on the uniform, stand up and risk their lives in defense of things that are bigger than themselves.”

While DeSantis delivered the keynote address, a pair of Palm Coast World War II survivors on hand were guests of honor. Former U.S. Army Air Corps corporal Hal Mettee participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima in 1945 and retired Army Sgt. Michael “Mickey” Owens, who turned 99 last week, was among the first wave of soldiers that stormed the shores of Utah Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day in June 1944.

“He remembers wading ashore in that waist-deep churning water,” Edward Beier, sergeant-at-arms for Post 115, said of Owens. “He remembers struggling to make the beach. He remembers the lifeless bodies of his comrades floating in the surf and on the beach.”

Officers from American Legion Post 115 of Bunnell presented both men with a WWII commemorative victory medal and they joined the veterans group for a wreath presentation.

Owens fought in the Battle of the Bulge, his unit helped liberate Paris, and he earned five Bronze Stars as well as a Presidential Unit Citation. Mettee, 93, participated in a five-week battle on Iwo Jima and witnessed one of the most iconic moments in U.S history when six Marines raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on the Japanese-held island.

“Let us never forget that greatest generation and the role they played in our country,” Beier said. “Let us remember and pay tribute to all of our veterans for the freedoms they sought to preserve.”

DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, talked of the sacrifices of veterans and reflected on their role in the overall American vision of instituting democratic values on society.

“Ultimately these things have to be defended and people have to be willing to risk it all in defense of noble principles,” he said. “That is what the American veteran has done time and time again throughout American history.”