Suquamish remembers, honors veterans | Slideshow

SUQUAMISH — Many of the older veterans shuffled when they walked, a few of them used wheelchairs. The younger ones wore leather jackets and rode Harleys.

In their prime, these were America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, the guys and gals that had America’s back on the battlefield. In World War II, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They know the price of war, on the battlefield and at home.

They don’t life for granted, and on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, their thoughts were on those who died while serving or after serving in uniform for the United States of America.

Jim Henry, a Poulsbo City Council member and retired Navy chief warrant officer, said he’s been told he’s a hero for his wartime service. “The heroes are still there. The lucky ones got back,” he said.

The Suquamish Warriors — a multicultural veterans organization — and the Suquamish Tribe presented an annual Veterans Honoring. The honoring began with a wreath-laying ceremony and flag presentation at the Suquamish Veterans Memorial, followed by traditional music by Sacred Water Canoe Family, dinner and recognition in the House of Awakened Culture.

Suquamish Warriors president Pete Hawk, a U.S. Army veteran, presented the flag to CarolAnn Lazzaretti, whose son, Army combat medic Spc. 4 John M. Lazzaretti, died of natural causes in 2008.

The medic’s father, Costa Lazzaretti, said he flew the flag at his Hansville home in honor of his son since 2008, but asked the Suquamish Warriors if they would fold it properly for him so he could retire it. That request evolved into the Nov. 11 ceremony: The flag was flown at the Suquamish Veterans Memorial, then lowered, folded and presented to the medic’s mother. The ceremony included a gun salute and “Taps.”

“I finally feel I have some closure,” Mr. Lazzaretti said.

In the House of Awakened Culture, the microphone was passed around the room and veterans introduced themselves by name, branch of service, and years served. Then, members of the Suquamish Warriors who had passed on since 2010 were remembered: Lewis Garnet Mabe, U.S. Army, Korea; Donald E. Thornton, USCG and Merchant Marines, World War II; Anthony Adams Sr., U.S. Army, Desert Storm; and Thomas Mabe, U.S. Army, Cold War.

Among the guests: Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Bremerton; and Capt. Thomas Zwolfer, commanding officer, Naval Base Kitsap.

These gatherings — the welcoming, the fellowship, the acknowledgement — have a healing effect on veterans.

Henry remembers returning stateside during the Vietnam War and being spat upon at San Francisco International Airport. “As a Christian, I know you’re not supposed to harbor ill will, but I did,” he said.

Years later, the Suquamish Tribe hosted an official welcoming for Vietnam War veterans, “and the ill will, it just left,” he said. He’s been a member of the Suquamish Warriors since.

Henry was also present at the ceremony in March in Olympia after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill declaring March 30 of every year “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Washington state.


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