When the clock struck 11 a.m. Friday, civilians and veterans stood inside the Pines Cemetery Mausoleum and rang handheld Bells of Peace to honor those who served.
The bell ringing in Spokane Valley commenced at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, now recognized as the federal Veterans Day holiday, because that was the time and day World War I ended 104 years ago.
“Today, we celebrate and we mourn at the same time,” said David Sutton, chaplain at American Legion Vernon J. Baker Post 241 in Spokane Valley. “Today, we will remember and try to forget. Today is a day that we will become misty and emotional, yet smile. Today is Veterans Day.”
Sutton, who addressed roughly 50 attendees at the Veterans Day ceremony, said Friday was a time to celebrate the freedoms Americans enjoy, the victories the U.S. had over its enemies who attempted to strip those freedoms away and the actions of military heroes who demonstrated “extraordinary bravery on the battlefield in foreign lands.”
“Today, we honor and celebrate the lives of our warriors who declared to the enemy and they shouted to the people of this great land, ‘We are the United States of America. Do not mess with us.’ ”
The Rogers High School Air Force Junior ROTC presented the nation’s colors before attendees stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Liberty Moeller, a North Idaho College student, belted out the national anthem to the applause of those in attendance. Moeller led the audience in singing “God Bless America” at the end of the ceremony.
Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley and City Councilman Arne Woodard thanked those who served. Haley read a Veterans Day proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee.
Tens of millions of Americans served in the armed forces over the past century, and hundreds of thousands gave their lives during that time, Haley read. Washington is home to more than 539,000 veterans, 62,000 active-duty servicemen and women, and 18,000 National Guard and reserve soldiers.
“Our veterans are brave and selfless individuals who, when duty called, willingly put themselves in harm’s way to defend the lives and liberty of others,” Haley read.
Later, Liberty’s father, Shaun Moeller of American Legion Post 241, tolled an Honor Bell seven times with seven seconds between each toll. Each bell toll has meaning and represents the many stages of a veteran’s life. The act is typically done at a veteran’s memorial service.
“We use it today to show our respect for the men and women of our U.S. armed forces who have served and who continue to serve to keep our freedom,” said Janet Ulbright, regent at Spokane’s May Hutton Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.
The seven tolls are the choice to serve, camaraderie, patriotism, respect, dignity, honor and the value of life.
Richard Hamley, commander of American Legion Post 241, read a letter from an American Legion official. Part of it emphasized the Legion’s efforts to stop the high rate of veteran suicide.
He asked that the phone number, 988, to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline be as well known as the 911 dialing code people use for other emergencies.
“The stigma of seeking help needs to come to an end,” Hamley said.
Karen Liptack, regent at the Jonas Babcock Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, encouraged people to show appreciation to veterans all year long – not just on Veterans Day – by shaking their hand, giving them a hug or praying with them.
“This is our day to specifically celebrate each of you veterans, but every day is a day to celebrate veterans,” Liptack said.
Shaun Moeller said American Legion Riders Post 9 in Spokane is hosting an auction and raffle for the Spokane Veterans Home Betterment Fund at 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Jack and Dan’s Bar and Grill in Spokane.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 12, 2022, to reflect that Janet Ulbright is a regent at the May Hutton Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. Her title was stated incorrectly in the original version of this story.
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