ARLINGTON – For longtime resident Barbara Hemmann, this year’s Veterans Day parade Sunday along Olympic Avenue in downtown Arlington held special meaning beyond thanking veterans for their service.
The retired teacher from Arlington watched as her 14-year-old grandson, Kameron Canady, marched in unison with his fellow Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets.
Hidden beneath his dark blue standard-issue service uniform, Kameron wore silver military dog tags that once belonged to Hemmann’s son and Kameron’s uncle, Army Pfc. Deveran Lee Owen. The commander’s personal body guard in Operation Iraqi Freedom died a decade ago from a fatal gunshot wound at the age of 22. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
Generations of Arlington-area residents and visitors gathered to pay tribute to military service members past and present. It’s a “save the date” event that Hemmann never misses, and it warms her heart to see the community turn out in the hundreds as a show of respect for those who fought and died defending the nation’s freedoms.
Hemmann, who taught for 43 years in school districts including Lakewood, Arlington and Seattle Pacific University, has done speaking engagements talking with students about the loss of her son.
“The thing is we can’t ever forget,” Hemmann said. “When you see somebody that has been in the military, you should say thank you for your service. You have no idea what they have gone through.”
Hemmann said Arlington is a community that looks out for veterans and their families.
Last summer, when wood carvers were in town at an event, one of them surprised her. “He carved a huge statue of a soldier’s boots, gun and American flag with my son’s name carved on it, and he gifted that to me,” she said. “The carver suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and that was a way for him to remember fallen soldiers.”
Sunday’s parade featured several groups besides veterans, including the AHS marching band, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, Arlington Legion Riders on motorycles and military families. Parade-goers clapped, cheered, said thanks and waved U.S. flags at service members from various war times carrying flags and arms on foot, while others cruised by in the back of a flatbed truck.
The parade noise quieted to a whisper as the Fallen Heroes Banners featuring the names, photos and hometowns of 57 men and women killed during service in the military passed by. Volunteers carried the large banners, row upon row of faces providing a heartrending exhibit of allegiance and the ultimate sacrifice.
The parade ended south of the American Legion Post No. 76 hall. The VFW and American Legion host the annual parade.
Editor’s note: For those who couldn’t make it downtown to see the parade live, The Arlington Times/Marysville Globe posted a video of the 10-minute parade on social media.