By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John B. Hetherington, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island
COUPEVILLE, Wash. (NNS) — Sailors from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) honored the sacrifice of U.S. fallen service members in the Coupeville Memorial Day Parade, May 24.
The day’s events included a parade, featuring the NASWI color guard and Navy Region Northwest Band, a remembrance ceremony with guest speakers Capt. Darryl Walker, commodore, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CVWP), Nancy Conard, mayor of Coupeville, and Jim Stansell, president of the North Cascade chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
The remembrance ceremony began with a speech from Walker who thanked the community for making the event a success.
“These events don’t happen unless you have a lot of good people doing a lot of hard work,” said Walker. “Whether you had a large part in it or a small part, I truly appreciate the hard work.”
Walker went on to talk about the importance of remembering those who gave their all.
“I’m truly humbled to be in front of you in uniform to speak about the American heroes that we honor on this special day,” said Walker. “The eloquence of words cannot match the power of the sacrifices made by so many. We honor them, we praise them, we remember them.”
Stansell, who was aboard the USS Hull during the attack on Pearl Harbor, also thanked the local community for providing support.
“I wish to thank the city of Coupeville for putting on this very colorful ceremony on this day that we honor our heroes and those who have gone on before us.”
This Memorial Day had extra impact for Mayor Conard who recently visited Normandy, France with here husband.
“We had the opportunity to stand on the beaches, Utah Beach and Omaha, and see the type of circumstances that our soldiers faced in making the sacrifice that they did for us,” said Conard. “We’ve been changed forever.”
Conard concluded her speech with a quote by John F. Kennedy.
“I was reading a quote and I thought it summed it up,” said Conard. “President Kennedy said, ‘The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.”
The ceremony ended with Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Charles Winter, from Mercer Island, Wash., assigned to Naval Hospital Oak Harbor performing “Taps” on bugle.
Memorial Day was established shortly after the Civil War as Decoration Day. It is now a day set aside to remember the service members who have given their lives in the service of their country.By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John B. Hetherington, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island