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We will never forget ... Memorial Day Parade today at 10:30 a.m.

The Memorial Park monument to the county
The Memorial Park monument to the county's World War I dead was dedicated Nov. 11, 1921, the first World War I monument in Washington state.
— image credit: Richard Walker

Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday. Banks, government offices, libraries, post offices, and schools are closed.

Friday Harbor's Memorial Day Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. today.

The procession will start on Second Street, then turn onto Spring Street to Memorial Park. At the ceremony, Karl Mueller, Vietnam War veteran and former American Legion Post 163 commander, will be the guest speaker. The local American Legion Auxiliary will distribute poppies in honor of those who have sacrificed their lives for the country. Poppies are made by disabled veterans; all contributions for the poppies are used for local veterans in need and their families. The Elliott Bay Pipe Band will play. After the ceremony, children will place flowers into the harbor in memory of the nation's Navy war dead.

Following is The Journal's editorial, "Memorial Day: We shall never forget ...," to be published June 2:

Memorial Day: We shall never forget ...

Since 1776, almost 1.5 million Americans have died on the battlefield: the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan.

Spread over the life of the United States, that’s equal to 6,465 military deaths a year.

San Juan Island’s Valley and Catholic cemeteries are the final resting places of nearly 300 military veterans. Along with other islanders lie the remains of veterans of the military occupation of San Juan Island and six of the above-named wars.

Among the dead are Patrick Beigin, veteran of the joint military occupation commonly known as the Pig War; and Peter Buzelle, whose grave marker bears the initials of the Grand Army of the Republic, denoting Civil War service.

Since the war in Iraq began in March 2003, some 4,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq; almost 1,100 have died in Afghanistan (for a complete list of all confirmed civilian, contractor and military casualties, see www.icasualties.org).

Two soldiers with San Juan ties were killed in action, two others were injured in Iraq. Another was injured in Afghanistan.

-- Sgt. Michael Bitz, the son and grandson of San Juan islanders, was killed March 23, 2003 when he and other Marines were attacked by Iraqi soldiers that had pretended to surrender.

-- Marine Pvt. 1st Class Cody Calavan, grandson of Shaw islanders, was killed in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, May 29, 2004.

-- In December 2003, Army Warrant Officer Carrie McLeish of Friday Harbor was injured in a vehicle collision in Tikrit.

-- On Aug. 25, 2005, Army Sgt. Richard (Buzz) Robertson and his Special Operations unit was in an up-armored Humvee when it hit a mine. Several of the men died. Robertson was believed to be on his fourth mission in Iraq.

-- On May 1, 2009, Army Sgt. Tom Bauschke of Friday Harbor was struck by shrapnel when his unit came under surprise attack from Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

What is most remarkable about each of America’s war dead and injured is that they came from all walks of life. Some were foreign-born, other American-born. They worked in city businesses, others on rural farms. Each had ambitions and dreams and families.

They may have disagreed on the necessity of war, but they went — willing to sacrifice their comforts and their lives for the nation’s cause. Their service above self is what we remember each Memorial Day and always.

The necessity of armed conflict is often debated, and it should be. But while the necessity of war may be debated, we can’t question the dedication and devotion of those serve — and die — in the name of the United States.

At this time, the week of Memorial Day, we again honor those who have given their lives. And we pray for resolution, restoration and healing in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the safe return of our military personnel there.

The local American Legion Auxiliary collects items for care packages the first Saturday of every month at Friday Harbor MarketPlace. The number of military personnel has ranged from six to 17. To add a name or get a copy of the care package list, call Minnie Knych at 378-4662 or visit the auxiliary table at MarketPlace.

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