BREMERTON — About 30 past, present and future Marines and their spouses came together July 30 to weed and prune the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in preparation for the Kitsap County Fair.
Afterward, they sat down together to enjoy 60 pounds of pulled pork prepared by the Marine Corps League — and to “be Marines,” as one veteran put it.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” retired Sgt. Chris Skinner said.
The veterans wore their honor and fidelity on their sleeves, and on their shirts and vests — patches and ribbons that, if you knew how to read them, told the story of where and when they served, as well as their deeds of courage.
“We want Kitsap County to know there is a strong U.S. Marine presence here,” said Sandy Smith, a member of the Marine Corps League Auxiliary who organized the day’s events. “We want to reach out to veterans and let them know the camaraderie is still here. And we want to help build that camaraderie with the next generation of Marines.”
“Marines love talking to Marines,” retired Sgt. Major Ted Streete said.
Stories about Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm. Stories about what it means to be part of the Marine family.
But the story-sharing was for the afternoon. The morning was to be spent cleaning and weeding the fairgrounds. Besides supervising, the recruiters — including Staff Sgt. David Glein, the head Marine recruiter in this area. All pitched in to help the pools with weeding, shoveling, raking and trimming.
“Never ask a Marine to do something you’re not willing to do yourself,” Glein said.
“These young people have volunteered for the Marines and they are in the pool to be called up to basic training. Some of them may be in the pool for a year or more, because they’re still in high school. We do weekly P.T. every Thursday at our offices in Silverdale, and once a month we do a function like this one.
“Events like this that bring the veterans and the recruits together are great because we want these young people to know what they are going into,” he said. “If we’re not being completely honest, we’re not doing our best for others.”