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Honoring fallen heroes at Bayview Cemetery
They gave their lives in service to their country, and Monday the people of South Whidbey remembered.
Gathering under gray skies, a healthy crowd turned out to pay their respects to America’s fallen during a Memorial Day ceremony at Bayview Cemetery. Organized by the Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League Detachment 1210, the 11 a.m. service is estimated to have drawn more than 100 people, including elected officials, non-profit group leaders, shipbuilders, farmers, leather-clad bikers, families and, of course, a host of veterans.
“I always get a lump in my throat when they play taps,” said Matt Nichols, a Freeland resident and Air Force veteran.
Like many in the crowd, he attends the Bayview ceremony every year. It’s a chance to remember and honor those “who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” a group of elite Americans who are sometimes overlooked, he said.
“I just want to be a supporter and make sure they aren’t forgotten,” Nichols said.
Attendees of Monday’s service entered the cemetery between two rows of American Legion South Whidbey Post 141 riders, men and women who greeted new arrivals with a “Welcome,” and “Thanks for coming.” Once seated, the ceremony was officiated by Bob Gabelein of the Marine Corps League and opened with a prayer.
It was followed with a speech by Krista Drechsel, the legion's poppy girl. She spoke about the flower, and its history and role in the organization as a means of supporting veterans.
Next up was what has become an annual reading of “Our Heroes Remembered on this Memorial Day,” a poem by Herb Weissblum, read by Weissblum.
“... With honor and duty, they gallantly battled evil forces of hate, from Tripoli to Flanders Fields, Iwo Jima and Kuwait. In Iraq and Afghanistan tyranny they fought to abate, we now honor fallen heroes as they forever lie here in state.
“Their gift to us is their history and the future as best it can be, our memorial to them, everyone living in peace and being free. Answering their call, we serve this great nation in their memory. Farewell brave veterans, God bless for defending our liberty,” Weissblum read.
The poem was followed by the event’s main speaker, Lt. Col. David S. Sullivan, U.S. Marine Corps retired. The Oak Harbor resident and Vietnam veteran talked about “comradeship, honor and sacrifice.” Those who served in the armed forces defended American policy, he said, and served “our country in action, under adversity and enemy fire.”
“We saw fear, bravery, wounds, deaths, sickness and sacrifice,” Sullivan said. “We took care of each other as best we could. We accomplished our missions. We survived.”
Sullivan added that Memorial Day ceremonies were held to pay tribute to those “who gave their lives for American freedom.”
“We salute all who served and are sincerely grateful for their patriotic commitment and for their noble service,” he said.
The ceremony was concluded with the firing of three shots by Marine Corps League members Norman Brocard, Clinton; Tom Bond, Oak Harbor; and Ed Donery, Freeland; and the playing of “Taps” by Darrell Wenzek.