Thousands of people attended the Race to the 4th event this past Thursday, July 4th, 2013, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The event featured family entertainment, a salute to our hometown heroes, live music, children’s rides, food and drinks, and an Independence Day fireworks display.
Guests were treated to music from two live rock and roll bands—“Head First” and “Main Highway,” as well as a performance by South Florida folk singer Grant Livingston, who played and sang his tribute to our City, “Homestead – Meet Me on Krome,” as well as other famous pieces.
Homestead Councilwoman Judy Waldman, Chairwoman to the Parks and Recreation Department, who spearheaded this event along with the Parks & Recreations Department and the Homestead-Miami Speedway, honored a number of Hometown Heroes from the stage of the Champions Club inside the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A dozen of military veterans from Homestead were honored on stage with a plaque and Congressional certificate for their outstanding efforts in military service, their dedication and sacrifice to the country, and in gratitude for their valor and vigilance to protect us all.
Among those honored were Specialist Alexander Concepcion honored for his eight years of service to the US Army; Retired Senior Master Sgt. Maureen A. Murray honored for her 27 years of service in the United States Air Force Reserves as well her daughter Senior Master Sergeant Tina Davis who joined the United States Air Force Reserves in 1990 and currently serves as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) at Southern Command; and Retired Sergeant Major Ronald W. Kleckler for his 20 years of service as an Airborne Ranger receiving many medals for his bravery and military merit.
Maria Lopez and Joel Campos Senior’s son Army Specialist Gerardo Campos was honored for making the ultimate sacrifice on June 2, 2012 giving his life for his country while on his first assignment in Afghanistan. Lt. Colonel Eldridge F. Williams also received tribute for his role in WWII as part of the first group of Tuskegee Airman serving in the Air Force for a total of 23 years. In addition, from the U.S. Navy, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Gabriel Salinas was honored for his many awards, medals, and important work using military working dogs to save lives and find explosives during three tours in the Middle East. K-9 heroes receiving awards were Military Working Dog Dix for his seven years of service as a Drug Detector Dog and Military Working Dog K-os for his many years of explosive detection. Also honored were: Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Tamara Stevens for completing 2300 hours of Drug Detection and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Philip Wells for completing over 2500 hours of explosive detection including 12 different support missions for the US Secret Service.
Along with the plaque, each honoree received a Kindness Award medal, which was created by Councilwoman Judy Waldman for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew as a token of appreciation for people who displayed acts of kindness during the tragedy and throughout their lives in Homestead.
“There is nothing so “kind” as what you have done - to sacrifice your life, your family, all that is sacred to you - for our freedom,” said Councilwoman Waldman during the Hometown Heroes presentation. “Recognizing your sacrifices and your stories this Fourth of July is really what our Independence Day is all about.”
U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia participated in the Hometown Heroes recognition along with City of Homestead Mayor Steven C. Bateman, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough-McCormick, Councilman Elvis Maldonado, Councilman Stephen R. Shelley and Councilman Jimmie L. Williams, III. Miami-Dade County Vice-Chair Commissioner Lynda Bell also attended the event.
Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer welcomed the crowds to the fourth annual Race to the 4th, the best attended yet. “It’s a pleasure to host “Race to the 4th” at Homestead-Miami Speedway for what has become a great community tradition. It remains a great family event and a fantastic venue to celebrate Independence Day,” said Becherer. Independence Day Fireworks were launched at 9 pm despite the rain to avoid the mortars getting damaged with the water.