Residents of the Inland Northwest paused to remember loved ones and service members Monday, including hundreds of people who braved chilly temperatures and blustery winds at two Memorial Day ceremonies in Hayden, Idaho.
Naval veterans, particularly submariners, were honored at a wreath-laying ceremony at Honeysuckle Beach. A larger ceremony followed at Hayden City Hall honoring all veterans.
Plenty of families were in attendance, along with many who wore hats, shirts, vests or jackets marking them as veterans.
About 200 people gathered on the shores of Hayden Lake for the wreath ceremony. The event began with the sounding of a submarine dive alarm. “That is the last sound they ever heard,” said master of ceremonies Jerry Parker of those who died and are now on “eternal patrol.”
Organizers read the names of dozens of submarines lost since the 1920’s and how many men were lost in each sinking. A bell tolled after each name. A 21-gun salute from the Coeur d’Alene Civil Air Patrol shattered the silence and as the sound of “Taps” floated out over the green grass and water, people in the parking lot full of empty boat trailers paused and placed their hands over their hearts until the sound faded.
Vietnam veteran Dave Larsen said he has been coming to the Hayden Memorial Day ceremony every year since it began. He served as an electronics technician on helicopter carriers from 1966 to 1973. “It’s something we didn’t get when we got out,” he said of the recognition. “People seem to appreciate the military more.”
The ceremony that followed at the PFC Robert J. Gordon Veterans Memorial Plaza at Hayden City Hall kicked off with bang when two A-10’s based in Boise thundered overhead in tight formation at low altitude. Hundreds of people sat in chairs warmed by the sun in the City Hall parking lot to listen to speakers and hear the names of all those memorialized on paving stones in the memorial plaza. They cheered when the planes passed overhead, made a quick turn and flew overhead a second time on their way home.
The family of Robert J. Gordon had front-row seats. Gordon died in April 1969 after serving about a year in Vietnam, said his sister, Barbara Churilla. He was 20 years old and proud to be a Marine, she said. “He was a very quiet individual,” she said. “He was extremely loyal to his family, but more so to his country.”
Gordon grew up just down the street from City Hall and Churilla said he might be surprised to find a memorial plaza named after him. “I think he thought he didn’t do anything that required that,” she said.
Sheriann Reidt brought her two young sons to the ceremony just like her parents took her to Memorial Day events when she was young. “I think it’s important for the boys to have the knowledge of what it’s about,” she said. “I feel it’s important to be part of it.”