Sound Off: Place veterans before horses

Time to speak out for the veteran!

Our community of Whidbey Island is a military based community and should not need to be reminded of the sacrifices that our veterans of service have endured in their careers. Yet, again they are ignored or mistreated and not given the proper respect for what they have suffered for our freedom.

I am speaking of the parade protocol that is exhibited in our Oak Harbor community by placing our honorable veterans behind businesses, horses or wherever the parade committee decides to fill a gap.

This practice of placing the veterans further behind others in our parades shows them no respect and is in contrast to the support that our community displays to our military personnel. All through town there are yellow ribbons and signs of support. When this city celebrates, our veterans should lead the parade for all to see our love of country and the honor they deserve for their sacrifice serving our country.

The chamber of commerce, the organization whose work it is to represent our city to visitors and new neighbors, should follow in the spirit of patriotism that is felt in the heart of Oak Harbor and place the veterans, along with the color guard, where they rightfully and reasonably belong.

In most communities, the veterans organizations are placed immediately behind the color guard leading the parade; however only in Oak Harbor is this not the case.

We, the Ladies Auxiliary of Whitehead Muzzall Post 7392 and the VFW Junior Girls Unit of Oak Harbor, just returned from the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth, and we were at the Peace Arch celebration of Hands Across the Border in June. The VFW was the lead in both of these parade events.

Direct community involvement always has been and will continue to be the priority of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and associates. Annually, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their Auxiliaries contribute over 13 million volunteer hours of community service and additional finances to people nationwide. Our community service programs encourage the citizens, increase civic pride, and ultimately enhance education and improve the environment while ensuring the availability of health services for our nation’s veterans. The VFW’s Citizenship Education program is designed to stimulate interest in America’s history and traditions and to promote citizenship, civic responsibility and patriotism. The VFW’s Youth Scholarship programs provide scholarships to our nation’s youth. They include Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen and Youth Essay contests. These programs are currently available in the Oak Harbor school system now.

With a legacy built on service to our community and our veteran’s welfare, our mandate of service honors the dead by helping the living. Our active duty, retired and deceased veterans and their families are our neighbors and relatives. We’re proud to have Whidbey Island Naval Air Station call Oak Harbor home, and our veterans organizations should lead in the parade as a sign of support. I am appalled that this letter was necessary to write, to bring to the attention of all that it is time to speak out for our heroes, our veterans.

Kathi Naff is president of Whitehead Muzzall Auxiliary 7392.

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