In cemeteries, city halls, monuments and homes across the country, Americans paid their respects to the country’s dead on Monday — part of the history from the very first, a nation born in battle, created from higher aspirations for a people than the old world.
Grays Harbor is no different. A county that has sent thousands of its sons and daughters forth to fight their country’s wars, hundreds have not returned.
“It’s a day for America to honor its fallen veterans, past and present,” said Rob Hoefer, a member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 224 honor guard, in an interview after serving as honor guard at a ceremony at Fern Hill Cemetery. “We’ve been doing this for a few years and we’re getting more and more attendance.”
A number of factors may have contributed to the growing participation of the public, said Post Commander Anthony Magri. A number of veteran groups and other community organizations took part in the ceremony and wreath laying.
Chris Hogstad, reverend of the Zion Lutheran Church in Camas, spoke during the ceremony, reflecting on his father’s experience in the Navy, serving aboard aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk and Bonhomme Richard during the Vietnam War, a perilous place at the best of time.
“Some of the stories, my father never shared with me. I have a hesitance to ask him,” Hogstad said. “Planes that went down. Helicopters that went on missions that never returned.”
In Cosmopolis, city administrators and guests dedicated the banners hung on the city’s lightpoles honoring the county’s war dead, rolled out last week. Mayor Kyle Pauley spoke to the large number of veterans living and working in the region, and the reminder the banners serve as of the cost of maintaining the county’s being.
“Five Harborites lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been honored for that with ceremonies, parades, monuments and newspaper coverage,” said VFW Post 224 Chaplain Jim Daly, who spoke at the event. “But many more gave their lives in Vietnam, Korea, World War II and World War I. It’s about time they were honored and the public realizes that freedom has a high cost.”
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Vickie Raines spoke in closing at the dedication ceremony.
“I am grateful to those in my family who have served,” Raines said. “I am more grateful to those who gave their lives so we could be free.”