Anacortes honors veterans in annual celebration
ANACORTES — Standing in front of an American flag Monday, Lee Schuirman recited a poem he knows by heart and has said many times over the years.
“If you’re able to read, your thanks and your gratitude by all means should go to your teachers,” Schuirman recited. “But if you can read English, you might consider thanking a veteran, for you do not salute the ancestry of the Third Reich, nor do you bow to the Rising Sun. Many gave up all of their tomorrows that we could have ours here today.”
Schuirman, a former U.S. Marine, recited the poem during the annual Anacortes Veterans Day event at the Port of Anacortes Transit Event Center.
“It’s a once a year reminder that what we have didn’t come without a cost,” said Dan Worra, executive director of the port. “It’s definitely my favorite event of the year.”
Worra, who served 24 years in the Navy, said the port has been celebrating the holiday since before he took over in 2015, but he has worked to center the event around a theme in recent years.
This year, Worra said the event is meant to celebrate the military family, not just the military member.
“Military families serve too,” said Brenda Kovach, a military spouse and a school liaison officer with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The average military family moves every two or three years, Kovach said, and the average military child can attend up to nine schools.
“We are talking about the courage and sacrifice of those military veterans, but those kids have a different kind of courage,” Kovach said. “These kids are strong.”
Worra’s wife Carrie Worra, Island Hospital Foundation Director Jeannette Papadakis and health specialist Kim Post shared stories about their husbands’ deployments and the toll those took on their families.
“It was hard at times,” Papadakis said. “It was hard to be left behind, it was hard to fill all those roles.”
Whenever times got tough, the women said, they turned to their community for help, which they each encouraged the Anacortes community to do for its veterans and service members.
“Anacortes is filled with military men and women who are willing to give so much,” Carrie Worra said. “It doesn’t matter if the spouse is deployed or not — they need to know the community cares.”
Betty Mooney, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1955 to 1958, said it was important to her to attend the event and honor veterans.
“What we enjoy today is due to the veterans who served,” she said.
As a Marine, she said she enjoyed being given the opportunity to lead and be a part of making America better.
“It was the best time of my life,” she said.
She said the Marine Corps celebrated its 143rd birthday on Saturday and the 100th anniversary of it allowing women to enlist.
She said she enlisted because her dad had been a Marine and served 24 years, including during World War II.
“Luckily, he came home,” she said.
In was during her time in the Marine Corps that she met her husband, Pat Mooney, who also served in the Marines.
The two have been married for 60 years, she said.
At the event, which included dancing and a wreath ceremony, Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere recalled the story of Anacortes resident Harry Causland, who died on the battlefield in France during World War I, saving numerous lives in the process.
“The citizens of Anacortes and Guemes still revere the sacrifice of Harry Leon Causland and the other men memorialized at the park bearing his name,” Gere said, reading from a proclamation declaring Oct. 24 as Harry Leon Causland Remembrance Day.
One hundred years after his death, she said it was important to continue to remember his sacrifice.
“None of us know what it’s like to be standing there in that moment and do the heroic thing Causland did,” she said.
Dan Worra also said it was important to remember the sacrifices made by veterans and service members.
“They never gave up on us,” Dan Worra said. “We can’t give up on them.”