Roughly 1,800 local community members came out Monday morning to the county’s only Veterans Day ceremony at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds to reflect and remember the military veterans of this country.
The four-hour ceremony showcased various military displays from the West Sound Military Vehicle Preservation Club. Refreshments were donated by Crazy Eric’s Drive-In and Hudson Auto Centers.
Bagpiper Michael Oliver opened the ceremony with a prelude, while the Bremerton High School Wind Ensemble was also on hand to play an armed forces medley for all the branches of the military.
Navy League Ambassador Guy Stitt hosted the ceremony. He was followed by Captain Alan Schrader, chief of staff for Navy Region Northwest, who provided some words of welcome.
“It’s an honor to be part of such an event on behalf of thousands of active duty military serving here in the Puget Sound,” Schrader said.
“You should be proud of the work that these men and women are doing for you and your families. Their dedication is remarkable and their determination — unmatched. I can tell you without a doubt that our military remains the best fighting force in the world today.”
Next in the program was the Presentation of Colors, provided by Knights of Columbus, Naval Sea Cadet Corps (Scorpion Battalion), and the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Kim Hurst then sang the “National Anthem,” as well as “God Bless America” and the Navy hymn “Eternal Father.”
Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder also offered some brief remarks. Also in attendance were Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer Capt. Richard Rhinehart, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler, who also is a Navy veteran.
“It is a great honor for me to have been asked to be part of today’s Veterans Day ceremony,” Gelder stated. “Today is a day to truly appreciate our freedom, our country and our veterans. Over 40 different military fraternal organizations pulled their resources together to plan for and put together today’s Veterans Day ceremony.”
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was retired Lt. Commander Richard Roberts of the U.S. Navy, who served as a crew member on P2Vs during the Cuban Missile Crisis before being commissioned as an aviation maintenance officer. Roberts also served aboard the USS Forrestal, USS Enterprise, USS Midway and USS Independence.
“Every veteran in this room took an oath,” Roberts said. “We all took an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States, against all enemies — foreign and domestic. Everyone one of us took that oath and were never relieved of that oath.”
The last formalities of the ceremony included a bell ringing by Korean War Navy veteran Gerald Drum; a salute to the fallen; a rifle salute by the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion – Bangor Rifle Squad; Echo Taps performed by the Bremerton High School Wind Ensemble; and the retiring of the colors.