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South Whidbey American Legion ceremony salutes, honors veterans
A day to honor America’s veterans drew more than 60 people to the Bayview cemetery on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11.
They attended the event with relics of the past and poppies made by veterans of the American Legion Post 141 South Whidbey.
Jim Knott, president and commander of American Legion Post 141, was happy with the turnout of the event.
Knott, a Vietnam-era veteran, served from 1974-79. This was the first Veterans Day ceremony put on by the Legion, he said.
Members of the Marine Corps League supplied the Honor Guard and Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy spoke to the crowd. McCarthy conveyed the importance about recognizing the service of local veterans and shared his own experience being a veteran transitioning back to civilian life.
Freeland resident Gene Berg attended the event to honor the veterans in the community. Berg, a member of the Veterans Resource Center, said many of the veterans today experience hardships returning to civilian life.
Berg served from 1968 to 1970 in Vietnam. He said the military is focused on the team, but in civilian life and our culture it’s about the individual. He said members of the center try to help with the transition recent military members and their families face when coming back into society.
“Society has to help veterans with injuries,” he said. “The transition is hard.”
McCarthy echoed that call during his speech. He described his time serving in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and said he benefitted greatly from the G.I. Bill and special tuition rates at Washington state colleges and universities.
“Because of these benefits, I was able to get a lot of degrees and pursue a rewarding experience,” he said.
McCarthy said he used the benefits of training and education to give back by becoming a school teacher, school administrator and now the mayor of Langley. He was also able to purchase a home, send his children to school and provide a good quality of life for his family because he risked his life in Vietnam, he said.
“I feel like I have been blessed with nine lives,” he said.
“I’m very proud of being an American.”
McCarthy also praised local employers and organizations for hiring veterans and helping them resume life after service.
“Meaningful employment is the linchpin that holds a veteran’s life together and enables high participation as a contributing citizen in our communities,” he said.