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Gig Harbor honors veterans

Special events to recognize those who served

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The waterfront hamlet of Gig Harbor has a variety of events and honors to celebrate Veterans Day Sunday, Nov. 11, and Veterans Day Nov. 12.  This year, Veterans Day is especially poignant as it marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of "The Great War" as World War I was known. Veterans Day was established in 1919 on the first anniversary of the war and was originally known as Armistice Day.

On Sunday, join Boy Scout Troop 282 for a Veterans Day Ceremony from 11 a.m. to noon in Skansie Park. The annual event includes a presentation of historic American flags, a traditional honor guard rifle salute and a guest speaker. There will be refreshments after the ceremony. All local veterans are invited to join Troop 282 and be recognized. Afterwards, head over to the Lunchbox Laboratory Restaurant in Gig Harbor and enjoy a free lunch for all veterans.

Pat Schmidt, Jill Guernsey, and John Guardia, Gig Harbor volunteers, thought that the Gig Harbor Community could do something special for local veterans. "We invited many people in the community to discuss the possibilities, and together we decided to solicit sponsors and put on this event," said Guernsey.

The three were successful in bringing together the local community to support this event to honor veterans and their families. The Gig Harbor Celebrates Veterans Day event is Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ocean5 in Gig Harbor. The program includes lunch, military honors, and a roundtable discussion with veterans from all services.

Schmidt, Guernsey and Guardia lined up sponsors for the free lunch for veterans. Sponsors include: Ocean5, The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, The Stearn's Family Foundation, The Meacham Family Foundation, DPI Print, the Saint Nicholas Catholic Church Knights of Columbus and more.

"In general, the Gig Harbor community is fortunate to have so many veterans, with such varied military experience," Guernsey said. "We want to take the time to thank them, and honor them this Veterans Day. Neither Pat nor I were in the military, however, our fathers were World War II veterans, and because of their service we have a tremendous moral inheritance. This event is one way to honor all that they did for us."

Ocean5, one of the sponsors, is where the luncheon will take place. "When we first heard about plans for a veterans event in Gig Harbor, we knew we wanted to be a part of it," Tomoko Senechal, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ocean5, explained. "The idea of celebrating our local veterans in a way that fosters connections is very much in line with our own core values, and we're honored to host this incredible group here at Ocean5."

This year, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance established a way to honor local military heroes. The group sold banners which will hang in the community from mid-September until late November 2018. Each banner has a photo of a local servicemember who has served in the military or currently serving. The $200 cost per banner covered the cost of the banners and any remaining monies were donated to Race for a Soldier and the PTSD Foundation. The Alliance has received many positive comments on its social media pages. The comments appreciated how the alliance supports the community and honors local heroes.

"The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance is proud to have been able to introduce this new project to Gig Harbor to honor a veteran or someone currently serving in the military. The banners have been so appreciated by the community and we have received many heartfelt comments. Thank you to the friends and families who provided photos and sponsored a banner. It is our honor to feature these local heroes," said Mary DesMarais, Executive Director, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance.

Veterans Day is a good time to take a moment and attend events that support and honor veterans. Veteran suicides continue to be an appalling statistic with an average of 22 veteran suicides a day. Little acts of kindness towards a hurting veteran can make a big difference. If you are a veteran, attending events like these is a great way to reconnect with your fellow servicemembers, especially if you miss the camaraderie of your service years. 

Photo: Banners honoring Gig Harbor military heroes are displayed downtown until the end of November. (Credit: Gig Harbor Waterfront Alliance)

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