Memorial Day weekend should be treated as more than just the unofficial beginning of summer. Having fun over the three-day weekend is fine, but don’t forget the reason for the holiday.
This weekend we remember the men and women who gave their lives in defense of their country, dating back to 1775 with the start of the Revolutionary War. Since then many thousands have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and the war still in progress — the Worldwide War on Terror.
Each war has had its critics, but there is no disagreement that the soldiers, sailors and airmen who answered their nation’s call and gave their lives deserve our highest respect and honor. Fortunately, Whidbey Island has numerous volunteer organizations and individuals who donate their time each year to make sure that appropriate ceremonies are available.
In Oak Harbor, a public Memorial Day service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 28 at Maple Leaf Cemetery. The occasion is always touching as the Fleet Reserve, VFW, American Legion, their Auxiliaries and others gather to pay tribute. A few heartfelt words, the laying of wreaths and the plaintive playing of Taps amidst the flag-adorned graves give special meaning to the holiday, and those in attendance are better because of it. The ceremony is repeated later in the day, at 12 noon, at Sunnyside Cemetery on Central Whidbey.
This Saturday, Coupeville citizens deserve particular credit for staging one of this state’s last remaining Memorial Day parades. It’s a bit of Americana that is preserved right here on Whidbey Island, so don’t forget to bring the kids. Veterans of our various wars parade past, adorned in uniforms that often fit too snugly after all these years, and receive accolades from the crowd. After the parade, which starts at 11 a.m., there is a prayer and speeches at Town Park with ice cream and hot dogs available. Many families make a day of it with a picnic afterwards.
By all means, enjoy the Memorial Day weekend with family and friends. But take a little time to honor our heroes, either in Coupeville or Oak Harbor. They’re still fighting for us today, in far-off places like Iraq and Afghanistan, so the least we can do is give thanks for their sacrifices.