For most Americans – and most islanders for that matter – the Memorial Day holiday is just another day off from work, and a chance to spend time camping, doing yard work, or hanging out with friends and family. But for a dedicated group of military veterans and members of the American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172 it’s a yearly opportunity to honor fallen comrades, and those who served in past wars – from World War I to Afghanistan.
The American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172 of Bainbridge Island is honored to invite the community to join its annual Memorial Day Observances this year on Monday, May 29, 2023 at 11:30am.
Legionnaires, Auxiliary, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and local veterans will gather to pay homage to the brave servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
This solemn ceremony will take place at the Veterans Memorial at Bainbridge High School, located at 9330 NE High School Road. Bainbridge Island. The ceremony will begin at 11:30am at the track field entrance.
In the spirit of remembrance, attendees will hear from Colin Hyde Post 172 Commander, Gary Sakuma and Bainbridge Island Mayor Brenda Fantroy-Johnson, who will share their reflections on this meaningful day.
In a poignant tribute to our fallen heroes, the ceremony will include a reading of the names of those we have lost, concluding with the solemn playing of taps.
After the ceremony, all attendees are cordially invited to continue the observance at the Colin Hyde Post 172 Legion Hall located at 7880 NE Bucklin Hill Rd, Bainbridge Island. There, we will unite in solidarity and camaraderie, honoring the memory of those who have served and sacrificed.
Ahead of Memorial Day, on the morning of Saturday, May 27, Legionnaires and local Boy and Girl Scouts will also decorate the graves of all known veterans with flags at three Bainbridge Island cemeteries (Kane, Port Blakely, and Seabold) plus the St. Barnabas and the Bethany Lutheran columbarium. The flags will be removed the following Saturday, June 3rd, after families have had a chance to remember their loved ones.
The American Legion encourages everyone in the community to join on this day of remembrance and gratitude, as we pay respects to our fallen service members, connect with local veterans, and acknowledge the role they have played in our history.
About the Veterans Memorial Monument
Last year, the Bainbridge Island Post celebrated its 80th anniversary and the re-dedication of the Veterans Memorial Monument that is now back at its original spot adjacent to Spartan Stadium on the campus of Bainbridge High School. Festivities honored the 24 Bainbridge High graduates who gave their lives for their country in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Vietnam.
The Veterans Monument has been moved several times over the years as the Bainbridge High School campus has undergone any number of building and reconstruction projects. “It’s more a memorial than ever before,” said Mick Hersey, one of several Legion volunteers who helped preserve the monument. “You can (now) walk through it and read all its sides.”
The monument, which sits on a refurbished concrete stand, includes two pillars. The larger one on the left, facing the track and football field, says “They Fought For Us, For Us They Fell.” The right pillar includes the inscription, “Here With One Accord We Do them Honor.” The names of the fallen soldiers and former Bainbridge High School graduates are engraved on separate plaques located on each pillar.
Bronze art work, known as “The Missing Man,” sits at the base of the right side pillar and was completed in 2015 by Seattle artist Daryl Smith. It includes a U.S. Army helmet atop of a stack of military fatigues and other equipment worn by soldiers of the day.
Hersey, who served 23 years in the Navy before retiring in 1997 as a senior chief cook, is a hobbyist restorer and preservationist of monuments, tombstones, and the like. “I’ve been doing it for about 10 years,” he told us last year. “I work with the Daughters of the American Revolution…(and) I also teach the proper way to clean (tombstones) and restore them.”
Hersey and his buddies re-lettered the statues, added black enamel paint, and restored the bronze plaques to look like new. In addition, a new flagpole was installed at the site along with some plantings to spruce it up. The Legion, with help from an art fund from the high school, helped pay for the project.
The City Council also acknowledged the two milestones last year by reading a Proclamation, honoring both American Legion’s longevity on the island and the preservation of the statuary.
The establishment of our local American Legion Post goes back to the early days of World War II, and the Post is named after a Bainbridge Island veteran who died in WWI. “In 1949, the family of Colin Hyde donated the land on which the Post now stands,” recalled Bill Beck, a long-time American Legion member and volunteer. “The building itself is part of what was once a barracks – building #62 – in Fort Ward at the South end of the Island. The Post purchased the surplus building sections for $960, which also included the cost of transportation of said materials over to the Post building site which had just recently been cleared. The first regular Post meeting was held in the newly assembled Hall on February 24, 1950.”
During World War II some 488 Bainbridge residents served in the armed services in some capacity or another, Beck told us. While he didn’t have exact statistics about the other conflicts or how many islanders’ might have participated, he did note that the Post has some 20-odd scrapbooks chock full of Post history that they’d be willing to share with anyone who might be interested.
Back in the day, the Post began with about 35 members and today it is 80 strong – all of whom were either awarded a medal for their service or served in a military branch during a period when the United States was involved in a war. Today, the Post does a slew of community activities, including honoring, supporting, and celebrating national holidays – you’ve probably seen their familiar American flags hung up along Winslow Way – holding blood drives, shipping care packages to current military members overseas, sponsoring classes for scouts, and assisting elderly and sick veterans at area nursing homes and so on.
About The American Legion
The American Legion is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization. Since 1919, it has been dedicated to mentoring youth, sponsoring wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and showing continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans. The success of The American Legion depends entirely on active membership, participation, and volunteerism. The organization belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.
If you’d like to learn more about the Post, visit their website: COLIN HYDE POST 172 (bainbridgeislandpost172.org)
*Images provided by the American Legion Colin Hyde Post 172
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