Remembering their sacrifices

With flags waving, thousands of people paid respects this weekend to the people who died in service to their country.

The annual Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony took place on a sunny Saturday morning in Coupeville.

The oldest such parade on the West Coast and one of only two held in Washington, the parade contained approximately 70 entrants including Pearl Harbor survivors riding in vintage automobiles, a color guard, and a patriotic motorcycle club.

The day also provided a community celebration. Groups such as Gifts from the Heart, Central Whidbey Little League and several 4-H Clubs participated in the parade, which went down Main Street, turned on Front Street and then ended at Town Park.

A flyover by a search and rescue helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station kicked off the parade. Navy personnel were scattered on the sidewalks lining the parade route handing out little flags to families watching the parade. Of course some of the children had bags ready to fill with candy that was tossed by the participants.

Saturday in Coupeville provided a day of family fun for everyone in town. Leland Formhals was sitting with his mom, Lindsay, in the grass near the hospital waiting for his dad and granddad to drive by in their 1930s-era Model A’s. Once the parade was finished, people scurried to Town Park for a free picnic sponsored by the Central Whidbey Lions Club and Prairie Center Market. The Coupeville Farmer’s Market was in session and a book sale took place at the Coupeville Recreation Hall.

At the remembrance ceremony following the parade, Lt. Andrew Brown from NAS Whidbey spoke about the sacrifices veterans have chosen to make.

“We are here today to affirm that freedom is never given to anybody. You have to work and sacrifice for it,” Brown said. “We are the fruit of their sacrifice. It’s because of them we are here.”

Capt. Gerral David, commanding officer of NAS Whidbey, said Memorial Day was in danger of becoming just another day off, and people should hear about the sacrifice veterans have made on our behalf.

He singled out such local veterans as Bruce Williams, Roger Sherman, Karen Ekberg and Ralph Edwards.

“Not one of these people considered service to their country a hardship. They thought it was the right thing to do,” David said.

He said it’s important to keep memories alive through telling stories, honoring sacrifices and cherishing memories.

“Treat Memorial Day with reverence and respect and others will follow your lead,” David said.

Several people who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor attended Saturday’s ceremony and received a standing ovation when Capt. David pointed them out.

Coupeville resident Barry Rix kicked off the ceremony singing the National Anthem and Coupeville resident Jeff Hume closed the ceremony by performing taps.

Joyce Klaus was honored for her efforts organizing the parade and ceremony each year. The 2009 parade marks the last year she will organize the event.

Following the ceremony the Northwest Junior Pipe Band, a bagpipe and drum band based in Shoreline, played a concert while families were enjoying hot dogs and ice cream and children were playing on the playground.

Monday morning, the VFW, the American Legion and Fleet Reserve, held a Memorial Day ceremonies at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Oak Harbor and Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville.

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