St Augustine’s highest and most prestigious award, the Order of La Florida, was presented to long time civil rights activist, Dr. Robert Hayling by members of the City Commission during the 40th ACCORD’s Seventh Annual Freedom Trail Luncheon held today.
Participating in the presentation were Mayor Joe Boles, Commissioner Roxanne Horvath and Vice Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline; who originated Hayling’s nomination for the award.
“We make this presentation to a person who means a great deal to us,” said Boles in making the presentation, adding “some of us on a very personal level because of many years of friendship, but certainly to all of us because of our high regard for his sacrifices and his achievements which have enriched our city.”
Created in 1975 as a way for the city to recognize those who have “contributed extraordinary services to our community,” the commission has voted to present the Order of La Florida award on just 18 other occasions. In 2011, Hayling was also the recipient of the city’s de Avilés Award, making him the only recipient of both the de Avilés Award and the Order of La Florida Award.
Since she originated the Hayling nomination, Vice-Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline was invited by Mayor Boles to read the award’s inscription:
The City of St. Augustine awards the highest honor within its power to bestow, the historic Order of La Florida, to Dr. Robert B. Hayling in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the advancement of civil rights through his boundless courage, strength of leadership, and exemplary actions that demonstrate the finest qualities of citizenship and commitment to a more just community for all people. Presented in the name of a grateful citizenry by the City Commission of St Augustine.
As is the custom at Order of La Florida and de Aviles Award presentations, the names of former recipients are read as part of the program, and on this occasion the mayor read the names concluding with “and today we add the name of Robert B. Hayling to this list,” to which the audience responded with a standing ovation.