Marysville celebrates Veterans Day

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville community conducted so many commemorations of Veterans Day that it almost qualified as “Veterans Week.”

To accommodate the closing of schools on its observance, Shoultes Elementary students conducted its Veterans Day assembly one day early, on Nov. 10, during which the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Naval Junior ROTC paraded the colors. Veterans were invited and honored at the ceremony which included performances of patriotic songs by the school choir and some acknowledgments of the students’ extracurricular activities on behalf of Wounded Warriors.

Nancy Hammer, a teacher and librarian at Shoultes, was in tears as she praised the students for their respectful behavior and explained how they were sending “thank yous” to veterans in ways that tied into their lessons. First- and second-graders read “A Paper Hug” and proceeded to trace their hands onto construction paper, measure the length of their arms in string, and create “paper hugs” that could be sent to troops, while third- through fifth-graders followed their reading of “The Wall,” about a boy and his dad who travel to find the name of the man’s father on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, by writing postcards to send to injured and recuperating military members.

“You can tell they really put their hearts into it,” Hammer said of the praise and encouragement that the students sent to the service members.

On Nov. 11, Veterans Day itself, Marysville American Legion Post 178 not only invited area veterans to its free chili feed, but also dedicated its bright red mailbox to collect worn-out American flags for proper disposal throughout the year. Indeed, when Tony Campbell, second vice commander of the post, opened the mailbox to inspect it as part of the dedication ceremony, he found a number of flags that had already been dropped off.

Fellow Tulalip residents Bud Anderson and Dale Nakken were among the area veterans who grabbed some bowls of chili at the Legion Hall that afternoon. Nakken served in World War II and Korea, while Anderson served in Vietnam, but their decades-long friendship cuts across their generation gap.

“I spent 18 months on the rivers in Nam trying to get out alive,” Anderson said. “I came back home to a country that was foreign to me and didn’t want us anymore.”

“WWII was a different war,” Nakken said. “We got all sorts of publicity when we came home. My oldest son went to Vietnam and he didn’t like it any more than you did,” he told Anderson. “You boys didn’t get any respect. When I went in, I thought it was great. I grew up in the Depression, and the Navy gave me better food than I’d had in my life.”

The next day, Nov. 12, saw more than two dozen area fitness enthusiasts arriving at the Marysville YMCA as early as 6:30 a.m. to pedal and pump their way through a three-hour “Sweat for a Vet” cardio workout and fundraiser for Wounded Warriors, to help provide equipment that will allow disabled veterans to continue their rehabilitation and expand their vocational options.

“Nationwide, we’re second in the number of participants for this event, and we’re the only ones on the West Coast that are doing it,” said Kathy Maness, health and wellbeing coordinator for the Marysville YMCA.

Scott Ballenger and his fellow members of “NuStep Oldies” aren’t veterans, but they are disabled. The trio didn’t let that stop them from trading their wheelchairs for recumbent bikes for the event, even if they did have to strap in their non-responsive limbs. Fellow “NuStep Oldie” Gil Velo brought his father’s medals from WWII to motivate his pedaling, while Ballenger explained that teammate Glenna Travers has kept going even with dual diagnoses of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

“We all raised about $2,000 for ‘Sweat for a Vet,’” Ballenger said. “Glenna generated over half of that.”


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