Even without knowing the stories behind them, it’s not easy to read the names or see photographs of United States military men and women killed in the global war on terror, said Navy veteran John Stapleton, 31, a soon-to-be graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
“That could have been anyone,” he said. “That could have been my brother or my best friend.”
At Evergreen’s annual remembrance roll-call commemoration Thursday, Stapleton helped read names of the nearly 120 service members who died during the past 12 months.
About 25 people attended the half-hour service, which was somber, and featured a slideshow, and Taps in Evergreen’s library lobby. It was organized by The Veterans of Evergreen Transition and Success Team (VETS), an advisory group of the college’s staff, faculty and students.
“It takes your breath away to realize that each one of these names was someone’s child, someone’s spouse … these were human beings with hopes and dreams,” said Thomas “Randy” Kelley, director of Evergreen’s Veterans Resource Center.
Evergreen has hosted the ceremony since 2011. At that time, community volunteers read the names of 6,058 fallen U.S. service members who had died up to that point in the war.
Each year, additions to the list have been getting shorter, but Evergreen’s event will continue as long as American service men and women are being killed in the war on terror, Kelley said.
“Next year, will be the final reading — hopefully,” he said.
More Memorial Day events
*A Memorial Day waterside service hosted by the Thurston County Veterans Council will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Percival Landing gazebo in downtown Olympia.
*There are two Memorial Day events scheduled at Capital Campus on Monday, according to the state Department of Enterprise Services. From 11 a.m. until noon, the annual Memorial Day event sponsored by the Thurston County Veterans Council will be in the Legislative Building rotunda. It will feature a band, a chamber choir, speakers and a cannon and rifle salute. Immediately after, from noon to 2 p.m., Olympia Rolling Thunder’s annual service will be from noon to 2 p.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
*Forest Funeral Home, 2501 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia, will hold a Memorial Day open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.
*Mills & Mills Funeral Home, 5725 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater, will hold a Memorial Day Commemoration at 2 p.m. Monday, featuring guest speaker Army Capt. Wolf Hindrichs.