Lifestyle

Whidbey supports its military

Antique cars, Boy Scouts, horses, uniformed and costumed people, scattered across the lawn at Coupeville Town Park to hear distinguished speakers following a Memorial Day parade.

Veterans and active duty personnel from every branch of military service were woven into the assortment of people, animals and vehicles Saturday that wound through town from the parade’s start at the elementary school. Crowds scattered along the parade route cheered the displays of patriotism.

And there was plenty of fun along the way, too.

Whidbey Island Scandinavians rode in a colorful Troll Vogn. Canine fanciers showed off their pets, one contingent from the Pug Club and another from the Basset Hound Club. An enthusiastic bunch of youngsters demonstrated team spirit for Coupeville cheerleaders who are state champions.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard told crowds at the park they were attending the town’s 21st Memorial Day celebration. Conard said she counted herself fortunate to live in a community that makes the effort to honor veterans and those currently serving their country.

Conard introduced Cmdr. Scott Hogan, commanding officer of VAQ 135, who recently returned to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station from the Persian Gulf with the “Black Ravens.”

Hogan spoke of the difficult conditions, the 130 degree temperatures combined with jet exhaust on the flight deck, as sailors support ground forces in Iraq.

“You should be very proud of these men and women,” he said, and the crowd applauded.

While many elsewhere forget the significance of Memorial Day and think of it only as a day off from work, he said, Whidbey Island residents are renowned for their support of the military.

Today, “Many of our friends and family are overseas, standing in harm’s way,” he said.

The terrorist’ attacks of Sept. 11 were really the beginning of a war now in its fifth year, he said, urging the crowd not to get caught up in politics but continue to support the men and women willing to risk their lives.

Capt. Syd. Abernethy, commander of NAS Whidbey, saluted a group of Pearl Harbor survivors seated onstage with their families.

“Once again, the U.S. is thrust into remembering and honoring those who served this county,” he said.

It’s ironic the patriots who love their county often must go overseas to protect their homeland, Abernethy said. Yet America has a proud tradition of honoring those who serve.

The crowd applauded loudly when he said Americans fight because they believe in freedom and democracy and not in war. And regardless of race or creed, Americans are willing to serve and sacrifice for their common beliefs.

Abernethy’s remarks won agreement when Glenn Lane followed him at the microphone.

Lane, of Oak Harbor, is the last survivor in Washington state from the USS Arizona, which sank at Pearl Harbor 64 years ago.

Lane was a dive bomber in the days leading up to World War II. When the Japanese attached the ships anchored at the harbor in Hawaii, Lane only had time to leap into the water before the Arizona sank.

The lessons of Pearl Harbor must never be forgotten, so America must remain forever vigilant against enemy attack, Lane said.

Lane honored the commitment of men and women who are fighting to ensure the safety of their fellow Americans.

A former Eagle Scout, he recently spoke with a group of Boy Scouts. “The future relies on young people like them,” he said.

The future is uncertain and despite battles won in previous conflicts there hasn’t been a war to end all wars, he said.

Even so, the struggle for world peace must continue. Quoting from an author he recently read, Lane said, “We must end war or war will end us.”

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