The mood was solemn as veterans representing generations of service during times of war and peace stood alongside friends and family, hats off and hands saluting the flag during the performance of “Taps.”
The sound of the Washington American Legion Band’s trumpets echoed Sunday afternoon in the Capitol Rotunda, where hundreds came to celebrate and honor veterans.
“We gathered here to recognize the Air Force,
Navy, Army, Marines and Coast Guard, who sacrifice both in war and in peace to protect America,” said Col. Bruce Bowers Jr., keynote speaker. “They are the fabric in which our flag has been woven.”
Bowers is commander of the 466th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, the state’s only flying Air Force Reserve, capable of deploying at any time for combat.
His speech went on to mention the origin of Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day following the end of World War I at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918.
“It was known to be the war to end all wars,” Bowers said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”
Bowers spoke of the countless veterans who have since transitioned back to civilian life as teachers, police officers, firefighters and other careers, as well as those still actively serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They are our most powerful line of defense in all conflicts against enemies who threaten our way of life,” Bowers said. “They answer the call of duty.”
Bowers’ speech was followed by the American Legion band performing the fight song for each branch of the military.
As a new fight song would begin, the conductor would turn, face the crowd and salute those who served in that branch.
A Navy veteran joined in during the performance of “Anchors Aweigh,” softly singing “Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh.”
The celebration was three months in the making and headed by a new chairperson, Bill Doucette.
Doucette, a 26-year Army veteran who lives in Lacey, will retire from the military later this month.
He became inspired to become a part of the Veterans Day celebration after helping out with a Memorial Day celebration with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 318.
“I do it because I care about veterans,” Doucette said. “I am adamant about taking care of our vets.”
Doucette is looking forward to starting a new job, hopefully working with JBLM and assisting more veterans.Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer