Island turns out to honor fallen veterans

One of the largest crowds in years swarmed to pay homage to America’s fallen war heroes with a ceremony at Bayview Cemetery on Memorial Day.

In a moment of levity

One of the largest crowds in years swarmed to pay homage to America’s fallen war heroes with a ceremony at Bayview Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Cars lined the fence outside the cemetery and people kept coming as the 11 a.m. starting time neared. Maple Glen retirement center in Freeland sent a van load of folks, including Tudy Miller who was lowered to the ground on a lift.

By the time of the opening prayer, at least 200 people were present, from the sponsoring American Legion Post 141 and its Legion Riders and Auxiliary, to the Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League of Whidbey Island, to veterans of the military services and their families, to those who had lost relatives in war, and to regular members of the public who wanted to pay their respects.

“My grandfather was a POW in World War II,” said Amber Ek, explaining her presence as she held her young son Burl who was waving an American flag.

Mike McClung, commander of the Marine Corps League that bears his daughter’s name (she was killed in Iraq in 2006), presided, telling the crowd this is the sixth year he’s been involved, and the sixth year it’s rained. He listed friends killed in several wars, the loss of his daughter to an explosive device, and urged those attending to “look among the graves; unless we remember those who have fallen we will be ill-served in the future.” Dozens of the graves had flags flying from them, showing how many South Whidbey residents served their country.

Legion Poppy Girl Anastasia Leese, 6, proudly read a statement, explaining why, “I am honored to be a Poppy Girl,” while Senior Poppy Girl Krista Drechsel recited the poem, “In Flanders Field.”

Special speaker Col. Brad Close, commander of MATSG 53 at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, said his command will soon be moving to the East Coast, leaving NAS Whidbey without a Marine presence for the first time in years. After a brief warning about cutting too much from the military budget, he paid tribute to all who have fallen during America’s wars. “It’s a staggering loss,” he said, mentioning those laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery as well as Bayview Cemetery. “The graves go on forever, and the flags represent the true cost of freedom.”

Others are prepared to make sacrifices, Close said. “The military today is ready and prepared to do what is necessary to preserve our freedom.”

Herb Weissblum, Marine Corps League member from Clinton, ended the ceremony with a poem he wrote for the occasion and in honor of the late Col. Megan McClung.

“Heroes taken from us while defending the America Way,” he said in part. “Gallantly battled evil forces.”

More in News

New Trustland Trails path draws ire from nearby residents

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District crews constructed a new wooded pathway… Continue reading

State lawmakers re-consider eliminating statute of limitations on sex crimes

By Taylor McAvoy WNPA Olympia News Bureau A bill passed in the… Continue reading

Langley City Council approves property rezoning

A quandary spanning several months over property zoning in a Langley neighborhood… Continue reading

Wait over for Saturday bus service on Whidbey

Island Transit set to roll Jan. 27

Man accused of putting gun to woman’s head in Clinton

A 33-year-old man is accused of putting a gun to a Clinton… Continue reading

Burglars steal from robotics club in Clinton

Burglars stole about $3,000 worth of equipment from South Whidbey children who… Continue reading

Federal marijuana stance doesn’t change anything for Whidbey entrepreneurs, law enforcement

The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared that federal cannabis laws will… Continue reading

Rising acidity levels could put marine life at risk, expert says

Reversing the consequences of ocean acidification would be like steering the Titanic… Continue reading

More savings, profits than expected at closed school, center

The closure of Langley Middle School is estimated to save more money… Continue reading

Most Read