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A packed house honors Veterans Day

SILVERDALE — Patriotism was running wide open as more than 1,200 people flowed into the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Pavilion for the county’s main Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The doors opened just after 9 a.m. for viewing of the West Sound Military Vehicle Preservation Club’s various antique military vehicles on display.

In addition, more than 40 veteran and fraternal service organizations had information and display booths set up for browsing.

This year’s event was orchestrated by the Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Navy League and the Kitsap County Commissioners and covered every conceivable honor supporting this year’s theme of “Honor All Who Have Served.”

Following the presentation of colors by the Knights of Columbus and the Kitsap Battalion of Naval Sea Cadets, the National Anthem and Invocation, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer introduced attending dignitaries, civilian, political and military.

Rear Adm. James Symonds, Commander, Navy Region Northwest delivered brief remarks before introducing the keynote speaker.

He spoke directly to the veterans in the audience and the great sacrifices they have endured.

“It’s an honor to address this great gathering of veterans who have done so much for our country. You have fought our enemies and you have fought the enemies of freedom. And you know war like no others. You’ve liberated people from tyranny. You’ve been wounded in battle and you’ve watched your brothers and sisters die in battle. And you carry those scars both physical and emotional today. And those scars have strengthened you in your understanding of freedom and democracy. And therefore you are our best citizens of this greatest nation the world has ever known. So I salute you,” Symonds said.

Symonds then introduced the keynote speaker, Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina, Commander, Submarine Group Trident. His remarks echoed the long history of contributions of veterans spanning several generations and the great strides democracy has made in the world, stating that one of the biggest challenges was during World War II when American democracy withstood a strong resistance, but would eventually emerge 50 years later at the end of the Cold War.

“Today, for the first time in history, more than half the people on earth live under democracy. In the Western Hemisphere alone, every nation but two can make that claim,” Giardina said.

This triumph of freedom stands atop a foundation built upon the bravery, the sacrifice and in many cases the blood of our young men and women in places like Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Kosovo, East Timor and many other places,” Giardina said. “It’s a legacy all of us in uniform guard proudly. It’s a legacy that gives our military and our nation its strength. The plain truth of the matter is that the veterans and families of that generation won for us the world that we have and enjoy today.”

In today’s world of uncertainty, Giardina added that our new enemies in a post 9-11 world is one that sees the American military responding and taking the fight to our enemies.

“Today as I speak, over a 150,000 U.S. servicemen and women, active, reserve and guard are away from their homes and loved ones serving in the Middle East and elsewhere helping us fight globally against terror. They serve both as warfighters, peacekeepers and rebuilders. They serve on and under the water, and they lock point in small mountain villages and lonely valleys tracking down their enemies and helping communities devastated by years of war and terror and abuse,” Giardina said.

In conclusion, Giardina asked the veterans in the audience to carry out a simple task.

“I ask you to please share your stories with others. Let everyone know what you have done so that they can see the many faces of military service and appreciate the personal service of their neighbors and friends,” Giardina said. “So we end where we began today. We honor those who have worn the cloth of our nation, who have given their all in war and in peace and we also remember and support and thank the families. We honor the past while guaranteeing the future. To all veterans and families here today, whether past or present, on behalf of grateful Americans and a grateful nation. Thank you for your honor, thank you for your courage, thank you for your commitment. Thank you for showing us the way and for leaving a legacy that will always be remembered and that will inspire our next generation of veterans.”

As the conclusion of the ceremony began, the Navy Band Northwest struck up the Armed Forces Medley where veterans from each branch of service stood up when their branch’s song was played.

This was followed by a rifle salute by the Marine Corps Security Force Company’s Bangor Rifle Squad. As the reverberation of that 21-gun salute echoed through the pavilion, it was washed away gently by the sound of echo taps performed by two buglers from opposite ends of the building.

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