SEQUIM — While keeping physical distance and wearing masks, a crowd of about 125 at Pioneer Memorial Park Wednesday heard a message to draw near — metaphorically — to those who have served and continue to serve their nation.
“Our veterans stand beside us; now, we must stand beside them.”
The words from Paul Renick, Commander of the American Legion Post 62, highlighted a unique Veterans Day ceremony held at the historic park near downtown Sequim. With many community celebrations canceled or moved online because of statewide COVID-19 health restrictions, the event drew veterans and non-veterans alike as local advocates lauded veterans’ efforts.
Renick, who led the ceremony, recalled a definition of a veteran that seemed apropos.
“It’s someone who has given the U.S. government a blank check, made payable to the American people, up to and including my life,” he said. “That is honor. That is a veteran.”
Priscilla Hudson, historian for the Sequim Prairie Garden Club whose members maintain Pioneer Memorial Park, asked the crowd to remember veterans who supported those on the front lines of combat.
“It took everyone to … achieve the goal,” she said.
That sentiment was echoed by veteran Tom Ferrell, the City of Sequim’s deputy mayor, who reflected on his time of service in the U.S. Air Force. He said all veterans, not just those most visible or written about, should be honored.
“(As a pilot) I get to ride the tip of the spear and be the hero … but we’re all the tip of the spear,” he said.
Members of the Marine Corps League’s Mt. Olympus Detachment offered a rifle volley and rendition of taps, echoed by American Legion riders, and closing comments came from Jeff Reyes, Clallam County Veterans Resource Center coordinator.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].