Wednesday was the longest night of 2012, the winter solstice. All over the United States, communities gathered to mourn the homeless who died without an address.
At Sarasota’s Salvation Army campus on 10th Street, a crowd gathered to pray and remember.
“It’s balmy here tonight,” said Salvation Army Major Philip Murphy. “But it’s not so nice across the country."
At this annual event, it was not balmy at all for the last two years. It was freezing. Even in the warm temperatures, the memorial was short – but with memorable moments. Father Jim Nilon’s invocation called, “For those who wander in isolation and loneliness, we pray.”
Music was a part of the ceremony, which opened with a solo bagpiper from the Sarasota Military Academy, only two blocks away. It closed with former Sarasota City Commissioner Danny Bilyeu blowing taps on a trumpet.
The showstopper was Bradenton City Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey singing, without accompaniment, “Take my hand, precious Lord.”
Dr. David Sutton with the Salvation Army recited the names of those who died homeless on Sarasota streets.
“It was never their goal to die alone in the street. They are not statistics. Most of these are people I knew.”
All 21 were from Sarasota or Manatee counties, which is supported by the annual census of homeless showing most are local people.
The names are:
Bernard Kloc, Jr., 54, Sarasota
Randy Westlund, 51, Manatee
William Johnson, 48, Manatee
Erik Miller, 43, Sarasota
Albert Broda, 64, Sarasota
Anthony Atkinson, 48, Sarasota
Jacob Huff, 55, Manatee
Richard Hincman, Jr., 47, Sarasota
Bruce Roberts, 53, Sarasota
Orville Uhl, Jr., 62, Manatee
Shawn Menard, 39, Sarasota
Louis Bassett, 60, Sarasota
Bruce Oberlin, 54, Sarasota
Paul Badeau, 49, Sarasota
Vincent Parker, 47, Manatee
William Altero, 42, Sarasota
David Wilkins, 49, Manatee
Charles Johnson, 57, Sarasota
William Hicks, 45, Manatee
John Twitchell, 63, Sarasota
“May their souls rest in peace,” said Stutton.