Honor Island Veterans Today at American Legion Ceremony at Bainbridge High School

This past weekend, you may have seen members of American Legion Collin Hyde Post 172 of Bainbridge Island distributing poppies throughout the community. Along with American flags adorning the streets and at the ferry terminal, these efforts were part of “our mission to raise awareness about the true meaning of Memorial Day—a time for reflection and honor,” notes Gary Sukuma, the Post’s Commander.

Veterans Memorial at Bainbridge High School – image courtesy of The American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172 of Bainbridge Island

Today, Monday May 27 at approximately 11:40 a.m., American Legion members and members of the community at large will honor those islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a ceremony to be held at Bainbridge High School, near the football field.

“The red poppy,” explains Sukuma, “has a deep and storied significance rooted in history. During World War I, the fields of Flanders in Belgium were devastated by the conflict, yet the red poppies miraculously continued to bloom amid the chaos and destruction. This phenomenon inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician, to write the now-famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poem eloquently captures the solemn beauty and enduring spirit of these flowers amidst the graves of fallen soldiers.”


“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

“These words resonate deeply,” Sukuma continues, “reminding us of the sacrifices made by countless men and women in uniform. The red poppy symbolizes not only the bloodshed of those who fought and died but also the resilience and hope for peace.”

Colin Hyde Post 172 Commander, Gary Sakuma at the 2022 Memorial Day Ceremony
Colin Hyde Post 172 Commander, Gary Sakuma at the 2022 Memorial Day Ceremony

The American Legion Post’s distribution of the poppies and the placement of flags are intended to foster a sense of community awareness and encourage everyone to honor the memory of those who have served and sacrificed for our country, Sukuma says. “These simple acts prompt us to pause and reflect on the true purpose of Memorial Day beyond the barbecues and sales. They call upon us to pay tribute to our fallen heroes and recognize the cost of the freedoms we enjoy today.”

“We are also deeply grateful for the donations received during this initiative,” he adds. “These contributions are used by our Post Auxiliary to fund gift exchanges during the holidays for our state’s veterans in long-term care facilities and veterans’ homes. This tradition ensures that our veterans feel remembered and appreciated, especially during the holiday season.”

“This practice of distributing poppies has been an island tradition dating back decades, becoming a cherished part of Bainbridge Island’s unique character and traditions. It is one of the many things that make our community special.,” Sukuma further notes.

Today’s ceremony will include the reading of names and the tolling of the bells. Additionally, participants can observe our Members and Scouts across the Island decorating the graves of Island veterans with American flags – much of which occurred on Saturday, May 25.

Adds Sukuma, “We hope that as you wear or hang your poppies and see the flags, you are reminded of the legacy of bravery and dedication they represent. Let these gestures inspire us all to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made and to honor those who have given their lives in service to our nation.”

Source Material: Colin Hyde Post 172. Photos courtesy of the Post. More info: https://www.legionpost172.org 

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