On a blustery Friday morning, a crowd of about 30 spectators gathered under the mast of the Snoqualmie Casino for a ceremony in recognition of Veterans Day.
The festivities, hosted by Snoqualmie Casino, brought together members of the Snoqualmie Tribe, the Snoqualmie-based American Post Legion, elected officials and veterans. The ceremony concluded with a raising of the American flag, led by the Snoqualmie Tribe Honor Guard.
Josh Fackrell, a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant and member of the Snoqualmie tribe, led the tribe’s honor guard at the ceremony. Fackrell enlisted in the military after high school and served 20 years on active duty, including three combat deployments, before retiring with honors in 2018.
In a speech before the flag ceremony, Fackrell asked veterans and those with veterans in their families to raise their right hands, noting that almost everyone has a connection to the military.
Washington state has more than 560,000 veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, making it the 12th-highest veteran population in the nation. This includes nearly 115,000 veterans in King County.
“You need a family. We need organizations like the American Legion, like the [Veterans of Foreign Wars]. It takes a tribe to support our veterans,” he said.
Fackrell said he specifically asked onlookers to raise their right hands because that’s what every service member does when they take an oath to serve.
“When I raised my right hand, it was an uncomfortable room and I felt lonely,” he said. “Fast forward 24+ years, I’m here with you now, and I have an extended family, a family of veterans. A community that comes together.
Michael Pollina, a US Navy veteran who fought in Vietnam, also spoke at the ceremony. Pollina is the chaplain for the American Legion Renton-Pickering Post 79, based in Snoqualmie. He said his relationship with the military began with his uncle, a World War II paratrooper who was captured behind enemy lines and spent six months in a prisoner of war. camp.
Pollina told the story of Veterans Day, which began as Armistice Day, a remembrance of soldiers killed in World War I. After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day was replaced by Veterans Day in 1954.
“We served so proudly and many of us left our families never to return,” Pollina said. “We need to remember those who served, not just on holidays, but every day. We are the US Navy, Marine Corp, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross and King County Council Member Sarah Perry also addressed the crowd. Ross said she had several relatives who fought in both World Wars, while Perry said 1,150 veterans worked in King County government.
“You have made the decision and the commitment to give your life, at all times, to our country,” Perry said. “He is [now] our obligation to support and defend you.