Opinion

EDITOR'S COLUMN | Whidbey veterans have my thanks

Monday was Veterans Day — a day of remembrance, honor and paying respects.

Events and ceremonies were held across Whidbey Island and they were well attended, including one at Bayview Cemetery. Put on by the American Legion Post 141 South Whidbey, about 50 people showed up for the 11 a.m. service and the potluck that followed. Attendees included family, business leaders, elected officials, and of course, veterans, many of whom were also the former.

Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy, a Vietnam veteran and helicopter pilot, was the guest speaker and his words struck home with attending veterans. One said later that he walked away with a clear understanding that there has been a shift in public perception regarding the military. The days of no ticker-tape parades for returning service members and holding them in philosophical contempt appear to be passing, and our men and women in uniform are once again viewed with reverence and respect.

That’s as it should be, at least in my opinion. As human beings, we each can have our own opinions about war but convictions should never come at the expense of those who have served. Indeed their sacrifice, whether voluntary or forced, was great.

This year my thoughts are on my grandfather, Norman Smith. An Everett resident with a Freeland home for about 50 years, he was a proud World War II veteran having served three years in the Pacific Theater as skipper of PC-1080 and PC-1245.

His famous war story was of a nighttime battle with an unknown enemy vessel. He and his crew blasted the hours away only to learn at sunrise that their target was nothing more than a big rock. It was a light-hearted tale and one of the few he ever shared. But it was not the sum of his experience, and the price tag was a burden he bore in silence the rest of his life.

His sacrifice, and it was a sacrifice, helped secure the freedom I enjoy today. To me, that’s not a tired platitude but a truth I hope never to forget or take for granted.

People like Langley residents Herb Bacon and McCarthy, Clayton Engebretsen of Freeland, Bill Ethridge of Coupeville and Harry Ferrier of Oak Harbor — indeed, people like my grandfather — will always have my respect for their service.

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