Tears, smiles and respect were shared during the Orcas Island School District’s Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 10. The high school gym was filled with students from the three schools, community members and veterans, gathered to honor those who have served in the United States’ military.
The color guard, hailing from the American Legion Post 93 in Eastsound, marched past a hand-made American flag created by the elementary students. The 5th-12th grade band began to play the “National Anthem.”
Several students from all grades read quotes from history, honoring the men and women who have served in the military. Then the elementary students stood and sang “In Service of Our Country” by Teresa Jennings. Later in the celebration, students sang “The Brave” by John Reggio.
San Juan County Councilman Rick Hughes spoke, thanking the veterans for their service and bravery. The Orcas Island Community Band performed “Washington Post” by John Philip Sousa, “The Thunderer” and “El Capitan” by Sousa.
Veteran Bill Wulff, an Army Sergeant who fought in the Vietnam War, shared photos from his deployment overseas. His images included what he called the “original selfie,” a picture of him taking a photo of his reflection in the mirror.
The Orcas Island School District’s string band performed “America the Beautiful” by Samuel Augustus Ward and the High School Student Leadership Class presented “The White Table.” Two students carried a small table to the front of the gymnasium, and slowly set it as another student read an explanation of the symbolism: A table is set for the service members who never returned home. A white tablecloth represents the purity of the veteran’s motives for joining the military. A single rose in a vase is to keep the faith that one day they will return. Around the vase, a red ribbon, is determination to bring our missing home. A plate with salt and lemon is for the tears shed by families of the missing and their bitter fate. An overturned glass is a reminder that the missing are not participate in the toast, and an empty chair is one that will never be sat in.
In closing, the audience arose to applaud the veterans in attendance at the celebration. It was an appreciation that overwhelmed several of the honored men and women, moving them to tears.