Tyler Wells, a co-owner of Saltwater Destinations, a beach concession and equipment rental company on Madeira Beach, started with one chair. A chair that stayed empty all day. Empty except for a Kevlar helmet and a pair of combat boots.
"It is the empty seat that is left for all the fallen soldiers who never got a chance to come back home," Wells said.
He lined five flags, for the five branches of service, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army behind the chair. And he planted an American flag in the surf.
"I wouldn't have the opportunity to run this business if it weren't for all the men and women who fought for us," Wells said.
"It means the world to me," said Army veteran Nicole Gitchel.
Gitchel came to the beach on a whim Friday to watch the sunset and was touched at the display on Veterans Day.
"The symbolism of America and the freedom we have here today ... that we are able to sit on this beach right now and look at the flag and see the sunset," Gitchel said.
After a long year and especially long week of politics, Marine Jerry Suddarth says this day came at the perfect time.
"We needed this day after the problems our country is having," Suddarth said.
It made for a patriotic picture as the sun set. The stars and stripes fluttering over the surf as the sun set on a special day to say thank you to America's veterans.
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