Dozens gathered for a Veterans Day service on Friday morning at the Bayview Cemetery to honor America’s armed forces.
Veterans of wars ranging from World War II to Iraq were in attendance, as well as their families, friends and supportive residents.
Among the crowd was Vietnam combat veteran 73-year-old Freeland resident Ken Goff, who served 11 months as a medic in the 1st Battalion, 12 Infantry Regiment of the 1st Air Calvary Division. From January 1968 to November 1968, he participated in the Tet Offensive, helped Marines lift the siege at Khe Sahn and saw action in the Quang Tri Province and the A Shau Valley. For heroic actions during combat, he earned three bronze stars.
The positive atmosphere at the cemetery served as another reminder for Goff that America has turned a major corner in the treatment of its veterans. For years, Goff didn’t display that he was a veteran.
“You just didn’t show it,” Goff said. “I’ve not exactly been spit upon, but yelled at and everything for being a Vietnam veteran. I think the Vietnam veterans are finally getting their recognition.”
“It’s an important day to honor the veterans,” he added.
The ceremony began with a prayer by Post Chaplain Darrell Wenzek and was followed by a speech by keynote speaker and retired Air Force Lieutenant General Jan-Marc Jouas. Jouas spoke about the history of America’s armed forces, the current state of the world and recognized the large number of veterans in the area.
“Today, there are more than 20 million American veterans, including more than 12,000 in Island County, which has the highest per capita population of veterans of any county in the state of Washington,” Jouas said. “So, on November 11, we honor them and all American veterans that have patriotism, service and willingness to defend our nation in war and in peace.”
Jouas recently served as interim executive director for the Port of South Whidbey.
Following Jouas’s speech, about a dozen students of Wellington Day School in Langley sang the pledge of allegiance and “America the Beautiful.”
The ceremony concluded with a three-gun salute by Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League Detachment 1210 and the playing of taps.