Before the Quilcene School District let its students go for the extended Veterans Day weekend, it recognized the contribution one of its high school seniors had made, both to honor his country and to motivate his fellow student-athletes.
Olin Reynolds, 18, was considering his Eagle Scout project for three years, but as he attended and played in the school's many home games throughout the years, he realized the sports fields behind the school needed their own flagpole.
Fortunately, Reynolds' grandfather had owned a U.S. Bank branch about 80 years ago, and it had its own flagpole. Reynolds went to the members of Quilcene Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3213 to request their assistance to install the old bank flagpole on the school campus.
"They poured the cement, which was the biggest help of all," Reynolds said. "With the money I saved from that, I was able to buy a flag for the pole myself. All the kids on the football team pitched in, too, to raise the flagpole so it wouldn't fall over onto one of the portable buildings."
Reynolds' grandfather and greatgrandfather both served in the Army, so the high school senior's father, Lonnie Reynolds, was gratified to see his son turn his efforts toward such a cause.
"That's three Eagle Scouts down for us, and one to go," Lonnie said with a laugh. "Two of our kids have played sports here, so it's nice to have the flag flying here. Being able to dedicate it in this way was incredible."
The dedication ceremony for the new school flagpole took place Nov. 9, with Olin Reynolds joining VFW 3213 Cmdr. Orville Fisk, Quartermaster Robert Alexander and Chaplain Robert Clubb in raising the flag.
"There are a lot of veterans in the community, so it's really important to honor and respect them," Reynolds said.
This message was echoed by Quilcene Superintendent Frank Redmon and Principal Sean Moss, both of whom are veterans, when members of VFW 3213 took part in a school assembly prior to the flagpole dedication.
After the school's second-grade students handed out handmade paper poppies to the veterans in attendance, Redmon wondered aloud how many eras of American military history were represented among those vets.
His informal poll found both Gulf Wars represented, as well as the Cold War era, the Vietnam War and even the Korean War.
Fisk not only weathered the Korean War but was also an "Atomic Vet," having been on hand for the United States' testing of nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands.
"There aren't that many of us left alive," Fisk said. "We stopped holding reunions because there weren't enough of us."
While Fisk has made it to 89 years old, the radioactivity he was exposed to took its toll.
"They keep having to take cancer off me," Fisk said.
While Patty Hughes, the assembly's keynote speaker, was the first to describe her halfdozen years in the Army as far less eventful, she shared with students her experiences as an optical lab specialist, a job field within the military that had only 151 people at the time.
"We made glasses for all branches of the military," Hughes said. "We made two pairs of glasses for each service member going into combat, because imagine being in combat and having your only pair of glasses break."
Hughes had to calculate the curve and thickness of each set of glasses, before computers and machines did the work for opticians, and she gained work through a number of optical chains due to her experience.
Hughes later became a boat operator when she returned to the service through the reserves and assisted in building a road for the Metlakatla Indian Community, the only Native American reservation in Alaska.
"In your day-to-day lives, everywhere you go, you're likely to meet a veteran, but you may not always recognize them," Moss said. "That's why we set aside this day to recognize them, and it's great that we can incorporate all of our students into this event."