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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Princess praises veterans at Lilac Festival luncheon

A Lilac princess got a standing ovation for her essay lauding veterans, and local military and public safety personnel were honored Thursday at the Lilac Festival’s annual military appreciation lunch.

Natale Szabo, of Medical Lake High School, read an essay that thanks veterans for protecting her range of freedoms, from the ability to wear what she wants to living in a country where people elect their leaders and criticize them once in office.

“I’m thankful, and I owe every bit of it to the veterans that have sacrificed for me,” she wrote in the essay, which recently won a national contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The crowd of about 300 people in the Davenport Hotel ballroom, many of them in military dress uniforms or purple Lilac Festival jackets, honored the Armed Forces Persons of the Year, whose names were announced in April: Marine Cpl. Dustin Duvanich, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Munson, Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Coulston and Army Sgt. 1st Class Zane Sheets.

Two city workers received honors as Civic Persons of the Year. Spokane police Officer Glenn Bartlett received an award for pulling an accident victim from a burning vehicle in March, and Spokane firefighter Shawn Poole received an award for risking his life to rescue another firefighter who fell through the floor of the Joel Building during the fire there last July.

Rear Adm. James Symonds, honorary grand marshal for Saturday night’s Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade, told the audience the Navy is doing more missions with fewer ships and personnel. Along with fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and piracy off Somalia, it has humanitarian missions around the world. While it is equipped like no other navy in the world, it is also “stretched like no other navy in the world,” he said.

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