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Honoring the fallen in Bremerton
It was windy Monday afternoon as a crowd of about 200 gathered at the Ivy Green Cemetery in Bremerton for the annual Memorial Day tribute.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer said the wind served a purpose.
“There’s a Native American saying that when a soul passes, the wind becomes strong,” Kilmer told the crowd. “The strength of the wind shows the strength of the departed. So it is only fitting that the wind is blowing strong today.”
Kilmer was one of several speakers at the 90-minute ceremony, at the foot of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Ivy Green. Among the other speakers were Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Navy Rear Adm. Dietrich H. Kuhlmann, commander of Submarine Group 9 at Bangor.
Kilmer spoke about the meaning of Memorial Day.
“They answered the call, and they risked it all,” he said of the fallen. “Today is a day when we remember their sacrifices.”
Kilmer told the audience that war comes as an enormous cost and the fallen will never be forgotten. He noted the importance of remembering the Missing in Action and those who were Prisoners of War.
“Neither will the Gold Star mothers and fathers be forgotten because they have given so much,” he said.
Kilmer also said much is owed to veterans who served that now need help. He said he was committed to making sure each veteran receives the benefits promised to him or her.
“This is so important when we hear about a backlog of cases at the VA and when we hear about secret wait lists,” he said. “We can honor the dead by treating our veterans who are still with us with respect.”
Mayor Lent read a city proclamation honoring those who have served the U.S. military and made the ultimate sacrifice — giving their lives for this nation’s freedom.
“I’m so proud to see three generations of us here today,” Lent said. “Seeing the young Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that are out there makes us feel good. They are our future and they are why we are here today.”
She went on to say that “each of us should pause and reflect on the sacrifices our veterans have made,” Lent said. “We honor them and we thank them.”
Rear Adm. Kuhlmann told the crowds that life is a learning experience.
“Freedom is not free,” he said. “We are surrounded by the evidence of that, here today. Today is the occasion that we reflect on the men and women who have died for us.”
He said we also honor the families of the fallen and the families of those who serve. With multiple deployments being the norm, families are being asked to give more and more.
“They endure long deployments and throughout that time, the fear of getting that knock on the door with that unwanted news,” he said. “It is up to us to be worthy of their sacrifice.”
“So as you leave here today and go on about your day, remember the brave souls who have sacrificed for our freedom,” he said.
Patriotic music filled the air following the speeches as wreaths were laid at the foot of the Tomb. The Farragut Brass Band and Nanaimo Pipe & Drums played and the ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute by Peninsula Honor Guard & Firing Squad.