Glen Silva has been around.
The U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. has traveled the world, as a soldier and a wounded warrior.
He has attended events in honor of veterans, honoring warriors, from sea to sea.
And he will contend that the foot the community of Port St. Joe puts forward to honor wounded warriors is unique, something that Silva said he has rarely, if ever, experienced.
“The good thing and unique thing about Port St. Joe is that it is sincere,” Silva said by phone from Maryland where he remains a Marine instructor.
He will join the Forgotten Coast Wounded Warrior Weekend, which begins May 14, as a mentor to those warriors and caregivers who have not experienced such an event.
“People can tell (a colorful adjective for insincerity), that you are only doing this for the community,” Silva continued. “They can tell.
“But in Port St. Joe you can feel it is out of pure thankfulness, nothing more. Sometimes that can get lost in translation, but it is good the warriors are there for as long as they are because they can see it is sincere.”
The Forgotten Coast Wounded Warrior Weekend includes two signature events, an honor parade and banquet which will take place May 15 to honor 20 warriors and their caregivers.
The parade will meander through town from WindMark to the Centennial Building, traveling Reid and Long Avenues en route while escorted by the Warrior Watch Riders.
The banquet will be followed the next day by fishing with local boat captains, who donate their time, the expense of a day on the water and their vessel to ensure fish end up dangling on the end of lines.
Those events, Silva noted, can make a wounded warrior feel like a “circus animal” and be “overwhelming” after spending months surrounded only by family and caregivers while convalescing serious, life-altering, wounds.
“It is a lot,” Silva said. “You don’t expect people to do that. You don’t like being told thank you for doing your job. And that is all I was doing, my job.”
Silva, as a participant in a Wounded Warrior event and a frequent visitor to the area since, said the community spirit of Port St. Joe slices through that curtain.
“It is a special essence you find in Port St. Joe,” Silva said. “It is such a unique experience. A lot of towns don’t do this. But people in Port St. Joe put aside all their differences to put on something special.
“It touches you on a personal level.”
That is often not the case in larger towns, at larger events, Silva said. Folks participate in smaller numbers, unwilling or unable to put work, school and kids and the treadmill of life aside.
“They mean to do well, they want to do well, but sometimes in a bigger town the event is kind of drowned out by so much going on in life,” Silva said. “In Port St. Joe that is not the case at all.”
Silva has an unusual perspective on the community in that Port St. Joe has become a frequent traveling destination.
He has been here when the Wounded Warrior Weekend, when the Semper Fi Sisters Beach Blast in the fall was not underway, and he has been in the shops, been in the restaurants, walked the streets.
“The locals remember you and talk to you and you see how much they support you,” Silva said. “It is wow. That is something you don’t see much anymore. I have been all around the world and that is something unique to Port St. Joe.”
That is evident in the Wounded Warrior events, Silva said, because the events are not a weeklong or month-long undertaking. The events do not reflect a temporary state of mind.
“The locals there are always talking about how to make the events better,” Silva said. “It is not a part-time thing for Port St. Joe. They aren’t there for themselves. It is not about Port St. Joe.
“They don’t want to do it better for Port St. Joe. They want to do it for the warriors and family and there is a difference. A big difference.”
Tickets remain for the May 15 Honor Banquet to celebrate the service of 20 warriors and their caregivers. There are a limited number of tickets. Tickets are $25 for those who have pledged at least a $100 donation to the Forgotten Coast Wounded Warrior Weekend and $50 for all others. Please contact George Duren at Duren’s Piggly Wiggly for tickets.