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Col. 'Bud' Day never received a 'Great Floridian' award

Col. George "Bud" Day of Shalimar, who died on Saturday at the age of 88, fought in three wars and was one of America's most decorated war heroes. He received the Medal of Honor after having endured years of brutality at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors without giving the enemy any classified information.

You would think that might have qualified Day for one of those "Great Floridian" awards -- but no. On the official state roster of award winners, Day's name is nowhere to be found. Steve Spurrier made the list, as did Tim Tebow, Bobby Bowden, the founder of Publix supermarkets and the University of Florida researcher who invented Gatorade.

This poses an obvious question: Exactly what are the criteria for handing out those awards -- and should they be re-evaluated? (Gov. Rick Scott has handed out 23 awards this year alone).

Day, who lived for decades in the Florida Panhandle, served as a vice commander of a flight wing at Eglin Air Force Base and practiced law in Fort Walton Beach after retiring from the Air Force in 1977. Captured after his plane was shot down, he escaped only to be recaptured a few days later. He spent five years in the notorious "Hanoi Hilton," a North Vietnam prisoner of war camp, where his fellow POWs were Sen. John McCain of Arizona and James Stockdale,  Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 presidential election.

-- Steve Bousquet