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Memorial Day Parade honors fallen warriors
While Coupeville’s Memorial Day celebration offered a light-hearted parade and a community picnic at Town Park, it also offered a somber ceremony to remember veterans who sacrificed their lives for their country.
“We are fortunate to be surrounded by a community like Coupeville whose people are willing to give of their time and energy to ensure we never forget Memorial Day,” said Cmdr. Michael O’Leary, commanding officer of VAQ-136 at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. He spoke during the ceremony in front of an audience that included Pearl Harbor Survivors, at least one former prisoner of war and hundreds of local residents.
“Today is a day we take the time to honor the spirit of all those who have died in service to our nation, remember those who have served in our hearts and express our thanks to the families and friends of those who supported them,” O’Leary said.
He cited the names of three soldiers who recently died in Afghanistan in support of operation Enduring Freedom:
Sgt. Michael J. Knapp of Overland Park, Kansas, died May 18 in Asadabad, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Jay-Brown S. Knox of Fort Wayne, Ind., died May 18 in Asadabad, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Wade D. Wilson of Normangee, Texas, died May 11 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association conducted a bell ceremony during the Saturday afternoon event. Bill Ethridge, a POW during World War II, Allan MacKay and Boy Scout Erling Anderson held the ceremony on the stage at Town Park.
Several Pearl Harbor survivors attended Coupeville’s festivities including Jim Stansell, Cecil Calivan, Harold Johnson and Tony Nady.
Following the parade, the Whidbey All-Island Band performed a musical salute to the services.
The festive day in Coupeville provided some fun, too.
The parade started at 11 a.m. with a procession that traveled down Main Street, onto Front Street in downtown Coupeville winding onto Alexander and Coveland streets before ending at Town Park.
Approximately 90 entrants participated in Saturday’s parade that opened with a flyover from three EA-18G Growlers from NAS Whidbey Island. Entrants included Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups and local businesses. Several color guards were on hand to parade through Coupeville and Pearl Harbor survivors were riding classic cars and such groups as the Intertribal Warrior Society also participated in the parade.
Following the parade and remembrance ceremony people could enjoy a free hot dog lunch that was organized by the Central Whidbey Lions Club with food provided by Prairie Center Red Apple in Coupeville.