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Remembering veterans

Flags fly as rain falls

Members of the American Legion carry the colors during the Auburn Veterans Day Parade. /J.M. Simpson

Auburn Veterans Day Parade

Photos by J.M. Simpson

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    Flag Ready

    Kirk Viestenz, a member of the Department of Washington Honor Guard, prepares the colors prior to the 45th Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

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    Helping Hands

    A member of the JBLM Honor Guard helps a fellow member square away her gear before the parade.

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    Rain in Auburn

    Thousands of individuals with umbrellas and flags watched the parade.

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    Rumpled Colors

    Ronald Fink and Kirk Viestenz, members of the Department of Washington Honor Guard, prepare the colors before the parade.

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    Warm and Dry

    Stacy and Steve Allen stay warm and dry during a wet the wet and cold Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

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    Colors in the Rain

    I think this would make a wonderful cover. Simple, direct and it captured the day.

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    A Quiet Moment

    Jake Robinson pauses before the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall Exhibit to pay his respects to a fallen friend.

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    Seven Flags Ready

    An Honor Guard representing all five branches of the service prepares before the Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

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    Heroes Remembered

    Members of the Fallen Heroes Banner Project carry banners honoring the service members who have given their lives since 9/11.

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    Securing the Flag

    A soldier from Fort Lewis helps an airmen from McChord Field prepare for the Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

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    Drum Warm-Up

    Drummers in JBLM's 56th Army band warm up prior to marching in the annual Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

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Jake Robinson stood in the light rain and held his right thumb against a wall under the name of a soldier - Jerry M. Shriver - with whom he served in Vietnam. "He was a great soldier," he said as he fought back tears. "A truly great soldier."

A former member of Special Forces who completed a number of tours in Vietnam, Robinson spent time at the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall Exhibit remembering his fellow soldier.

A half-scale replica of the (Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.)  - sometimes referred to as the Wall That Heals - the traveling memorial displays the names of 58,249 men and women killed or missing in action, including 1,116 from Washington State.

The memorial stood in conjunction with Auburn's 45th annual Veterans Day Parade and Observance held Saturday morning.

"I appreciate your coming by this morning," said Robinson after observing a long, quiet moment.  "Maybe I'll see you in the parade."

As the rain continued to fall, thousands of spectators lined Auburn's Main Street as an honor guard comprised of members from all service branches stepped off at 11 a.m. to begin the largest parade of its kind west of the Mississippi River.

More than 200 organizations - including veterans from World War I to Afghanistan - registered and marched the one-mile parade route.

"It is an honor for us to be here, to pay honor to all veterans who have served," said Russ Gierke, a member of the Brothers in Arms Motorcycle Club.

Led by Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 56th Army Band, more than two dozen high school marching bands added color and sound to the event.

On a more somber note, members of the traveling Fallen Heroes Banner Project carried 150 poster-size white banners, each featuring a large photograph of a fallen soldier. More than 60 soldiers from JBLM's 80th Ordnance Battalion helped carry the banners, along with a handful of family members of the fallen soldiers. The project received support from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Washington's Ladies Auxiliary.

Parade watchers stood in silence as the banners passed. "Thank you," one woman softly said.

Auburn city officials estimated the crowd at about 5,000. Spectators were lined up two and three deep in some places, and American flags of all sizes outnumbered umbrellas.

Halfway through the event, the rain stopped for a bit.

"It's a good day, a great day, to remember all of those who serve," said Kirk Viestenz, a member of the Department of Washington's Honor Guard. "We honor them all."

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