As if on cue, the sun began to peek through the clouds just in time for the annual Memorial Day event at the Washougal Memorial Cemetery on Monday. The rays highlighted the hundreds of tiny American flags marking the graves of those who served their country, and flowers placed to honor loved ones who have passed away.
The scene was incredibly moving.
The ceremony itself is always a stirring event, with the delivery of poignant speeches, the placing of the wreaths marking those who died in history’s wars, and the startling rifle salute. But this year in particular the comments and observations communicated to the audience were touching and thought provoking.
Both Dave Shoemaker, a Washougal City Councilman and retired career military veteran, and John Clapp, grand chef deguerre passe for the state of Washington, spoke of our local heros. Some were killed as they proudly served the country they loved, while others made it through and went on to live long lives — often sharing the stories of their service with family and friends.
Shoemaker ended his speech with a call out to the community to make the effort to recognize the men and women who are now serving the United States of America as members of the military.
“So when next you see a young man or woman wearing our country’s uniform, please take a moment to thank them for their service,” he said. “As a Vietnam vet, I can tell you that it means a lot to have your fellow citizens recognize your service — there was a time when it wasn’t appreciated.”
It’s such a simple act that most of us probably don’t do enough, but can have enormous impact.