Several hundred people gathered at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Monday for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the full event took place at Fort Vancouver Parade Ground. It took place almost in 2020, and a reduced version was held in Fort Vancouver barracks in 2021.
Scouts with troops 479 and 5479 raised a huge garrison flag on the ledge to begin the ceremony before co-chair of the Military Community Thanksgiving Committee, retired Colonel Larry Smith made an introductory speech and introduced the speakers.
Vancouver Fire Chaplain Peter Schrater began by urging those present to remember the people who served in the conflicts more than the conflict itself.
“Many times we get involved in the conflict and what sent these people out, and we allow that to be what determines whether we remember them or not,” Schrater said. “On this day, we do not remember the conflict. We remember people and people. “
The first keynote speaker of the day was Tracy Fortman, head of the Fort Vancouver historic site, who noted that her family’s military history had led her to a career in public service.
“I was taught that service is the responsibility of every American,” she said. “We must choose today and every day to work together as Americans to honor the victims of the past.”
Vancouver Mayor Anne McKinney-Ogle reiterated this opinion, asking those present to reflect on what Remembrance Day means to them.
Jaime Herre Baitler’s spokesman, R-Battle Ground, also made comments. Herrera Boitler said speaking at the event was an honor and something she appreciates. She spoke of local soldiers killed in combat, such as an army sergeant. Eric Emond of Brush Prairie, who died in 2018 after an improvised explosive device hit his car in Afghanistan. This was Emond’s seventh deployment. He served in the army for 21 years.
“He was an award-winning hero and really embodies what it means to be a U.S. Army soldier,” Herrera Baitler said. “His story of service and valor will live on.”
Special remarks were made by Gold Star wife Melissa Scholl-Bell, who lost her husband Lance Corporal. Michael Scholl in November 2006 – a month after the birth of his daughter Addison.
“Over the years, I’ve been referring to Remembrance Day,” Shol-Bella said. “Of course, sadness never disappears … but the pride, honor and true self-sacrifice of men and women prevails.
“I know that deep down these American heroes do not want us to be sad, but to remember them, respect them and tell their story,” she added.
The keynote speaker was Colonel Todd Hofford, who commanded the 142nd Wing at the Portland National Guard base in Oregon. Hofford began with a brief history of Remembrance Day that began after the Civil War. He then noted that this is the first Remembrance Day with a full celebration across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the first time since 2019, Americans will gather again for parades and ceremonies,” he said. “We will shed tears and share good memories of those who were before us. Today we honor their devotion, courage and sacrifice. ”
“As history often reminds us, freedom is not obtained for free and is not easily preserved. It must be constantly protected by every generation, ”he added.
Hofford concluded his speech by repeating Sholl-Bell, saying that the victims would like us to celebrate Remembrance Day.
“Those who have fought for us, our lives, our freedom and our pursuit of happiness, will be honored to celebrate all that their sacrifice has left us.”