Chimacum students celebrate vets

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 11/13/18

Students at the main campus of the Chimacum School District were treated to a visit from the second-in-command of nearby Naval Magazine Indian Island in time to kick off their extended Veterans Day …

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Chimacum students celebrate vets

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Students at the main campus of the Chimacum School District were treated to a visit from the second-in-command of nearby Naval Magazine Indian Island in time to kick off their extended Veterans Day weekend.

Navy Cmdr. Steve Everhart serves as the installation executive officer for Naval Magazine Indian Island, between Port Hadlock and Marrowstone Island, and he pointed out to his audience at the Chimacum High School auditorium Nov. 9 how close the military is to their lives.

“By a show of hands, how many of you have family members who are or were in the service?” Everhart asked the crowd. “Wow. That’s almost everyone here.”

Everhart then offered the students in attendance a “homework” assignment by encouraging them to use this Veterans Day to contact their family members who are veterans.

“You can talk, call or text them,” he said. “You can thank them for their service and ask them about it. For many of you, this will add up to multiple phone calls, but Veterans Day is not just a day off. It’s a day to remember those who have served our country.”

Everhart cited statistics that about 20 million Americans are veterans, with about 560,000 of them living in Washington state.

“That’s one out of every eight adults,” Everhart said. “And their families deserve to be thanked, too, because that’s a huge burden, and they don’t bear it alone.”

Everhart credited service members’ parents, spouses and even their children with being “pillars of strength” whose support makes all the difference.

“I come from the submariner tradition, and one trait we share in common is, we love to tell stories about what we do,” Everhart said. “If you talk to a veteran, they can tell you things about how it was, how cold or warm, and if you look into their eyes, you can often spy a vivid portal into the past.”

Chimacum Elementary Principal Jason Lynch, who invited members of Port Hadlock Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7498 to post the colors, capitalized on the educational opportunity in Everhart’s suggestion.

Lynch already had sought to make the assembly a learning experience for students, at one point holding the microphone for a quartet of fifth-graders as they offered a brief oral history of Veterans Day, including its start as Armistice Day in 1919, one year after the end of the first World War.

But after Everhart issued his “homework” assignment, Lynch told the students it was mandatory.

“Reach out to your family member who served, or are serving,” Lynch said. “Ask them questions about what they did, and what it was like.”

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