Harbison honored at Disney World for service


By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Disney World is known as a magical place, but during a recent visit there, Brian Harbison was treated to a very real honor.

Harbison was selected as Disney World’s “Veteran for the Day” on Feb. 13, and participated in a flag retirement ceremony and parade.

Harbison, chief building official for the City of Gadsden, spent Feb. 7-14 at Disney World with his wife Gina, their daughter and son-in-law Jessica and Ben Ponder and Gina’s sister.

“Thursday (Feb. 13) was our last day in the park,” Harbison said. Just after they had gone through the gates at Magic Kingdom, Harbison was approached by a man wearing a suit, and they started talking.

“I was wearing my Air Force sweatshirt because it was a little cooler that day,” he said.

The man asked if Harbison had served in the military, and they talked about his service. From 1985 to 1989, Harbison served in the Air Force, stationed at Grand Fork, North Dakota.

“He asked if I would like to participate in a flag retirement ceremony,” Harbison said. “I told him I’d be honored.”

As he was told about what he’d be doing, Harbison said he told the Disney representative they had dinner reservations. “He went to the trouble to get that changed for us,” Harbison said. “That’s when I realized this was kind of a big deal.”

Harbison and family had to return to the Main Street area at 4:45 p.m. and he was told how the flag retirement ceremony would proceed. Harbison also got to march in the parade down Main Street as part of the flag retirement, and the folded flag was handed to him. He didn’t get to keep the flag, however.

“Walt was big on recycling,” he joked.

Harbison said the crowd responded with reverence to the ceremony. 

“It was the most honorable thing I’ve ever been a part of. It was the first time I’ve ever been singled out and honored,” Harbison said, for his military service.

Harbison feels very fortunate and honored to have been the selected guest for the Feb. 13 ceremony.

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