Marysville honors veterans

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville community’s commemorations of Veterans Day were spaced out over the course of nearly a week as students, service organizations and local businesses took the time to thank past and present military members in their own ways.

Marshall Elementary’s Veterans Day concerts actually took place on the morning and evening of Nov. 9, as approximately 90 students from grades 1-4 sang patriotic melodies and even performed a bit of “reader’s theater” in tribute to the nation’s veterans, a few of whom were in the audience and asked to stand so they could be recognized.

Marshall Elementary music teacher Heather Moll noted that the Veterans Day concert was already an annual event at the school, but added that this year marked the first time that it had included an evening showing.

“This morning, we had about 50 adults show up,” Moll said, after students had performed a sign-language song and an acrostic poem, “V Is for Veterans,” that she had written herself. “Tonight, there were about 100 adults in the audience. When we do it during the day, some of classes don’t get to see it. I love being able to show our parents that Marshall kids really respect veterans.”

On Nov. 11, the Marysville American Legion Post 178 Hall opened its doors not only to non-members, but also to non-veterans for its annual free Veterans Day meal. The Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary and Bob Rawe’s “Take a Vet to Lunch” organization helped supply the food and the volunteers to serve an estimated 100 guests as many hamburgers, as well as close to four gallons each of chili and potato salad, plus six bags of potato chips and an assortment of hot dogs, fruit salads, green salads, condiments and sodas.

Post 178 Cmdr. Ken Cage deemed this year’s meal “twice as good” as last year’s event, in part because it attracted twice as many attendees, in addition to expanding its meal options beyond chili.

“It’s important that veterans remember those who didn’t come back,” Cage said. “This day gives us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the principles that we should all strive for.”

Rawe and Ladies Auxiliary President Kay Smith agreed with Cage that this year’s turnout was impressive and praised one another’s groups for helping to make the event such a success. Rawe additionally credited the Coastal Community Bank Employee Giving Fund at the Greater Everett Community Foundation with funding his purchases at Safeway for the meal.

The Marysville Applebee’s restaurant offered free meals of its own that day, albeit exclusively to past and present military members.

Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hawkins worked in the area of Naval Intelligence that’s now known as NCIS, although he laughed as he noted that his life was nothing like the show of the same name. He considers his 18 years in the service were exciting enough, though.

“I got to see the demise of the Soviet Union,” said Hawkins, who retired in the mid-1990s. “I remember when we switched from tracking Soviet subs to counter-narcotics. I miss some of the excitement, but I don’t miss some of the regulations, even though I absolutely appreciate why they’re necessary. A lot of people don’t appreciate what our armed forces do and the impact they’ve had. I’ve lost friends who made the ultimate sacrifice. Whether you support the war or not, please support our military because they do what they do for every American.”

Like Hawkins, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cory Ellis comes from a family tradition of military service. The 15-year active-duty sailor was joined at Applebee’s by his three daughters — Diana, Freylin and Cerridwen — who colored with crayons as he recalled how his own road toward military service started when he was only 13.

“I was a Sea Cadet for five years, then a Merchant Marine for the next seven years,” said Ellis, who can trace his ancestry back to veterans of the French and Indian War. “I’ve lost three shipmates overseas. We should always take time to remember those who have gone before, those who have lost their lives and those who are still serving, because they’ve all made sacrifices on our shared behalf.”

The Marysville Golden Corral restaurant served free meals to veterans during its own “Military Appreciation Day” Nov. 15, and William Otis recalled his more than 20 years of service as he worked his way through the buffet line. Otis served in the Navy during World War II and Korea, with a three-year break in service in between, and switched branches to serve in the Air Force when was recalled to duty a third time, from 1956-1968, which included a stint in Vietnam.

“It grows you up fast,” Otis laughed. “I joined the Navy when I was 17 and I’d never seen an ocean in my life. I appreciate that people still thank me for serving. It’s nice to know that someone still cares.”

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