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Community shows its support for local military
Local military active duty, reserve and retired personnel and their families came together with Kitsap County businesses, service agencies and neighbors for Military Appreciation Day at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Pavilion April 4.
The event, designed to welcome new military personnel to the area and introduce them to local businesses and organizations, was attended by nearly 1,000 people who perused and interacted with the more than 150 business or service organizations that set up booths inside the Pavilion.
The doors opened at 10 a.m. and by 11, a full entertainment schedule kicked off on the center stage with the Clan Heather Dancers from Bellingham with their Scottish Highland, Irish step and tap dance routines.
The Kitsap Chordsman, a perennial favorite, blended their barbershop harmony vocal arrangements of musical standards that have made them a national and regional favorite.
As the Chordsmen wrapped up their performance, Marines from Marine Corps Security Force Company, Detachment Bangor were applying camouflage face paint to young children opting to participate in the annual Marine mini-boot camp led by Sgt. Maj. Brent Cook. The event allowed children in kindergarten through eighth grade to interact with the Marines, dress out in actual battle gear and also fall into formation and learn about military discipline on a small scale.
Within 15 minutes, a chorus of forceful young voices could be heard in unison from the west end of the Pavilion shouting “yes, sergeant major” and “no, sergeant major” as they were directed by Cook in a reasonable amount of order taking and direction along with physical fitness training and completing the Marines’ inflatable obstacle course.
Interactive displays from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Keyport demonstrated the latest in undersea technology and the importance of science education in general as well as the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment from Bangor and their advanced explosive robotic detection system that kept visitors young and old intrigued.
Darla Murker, executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, said hosting Military Appreciation Day at the Pavilion brought a new perspective to the event.
“I think this year had a great fair atmosphere and I think we had bigger displays and more hands-on in addition to the stuff going on outside and I think these were a great addition to the event,” Murker said.
And outside of the Pavilion were several activities including nearly a dozen vintage military vehicles on display from the West Sound Military Vehicle Preservation Club. Their mission is to honor the military who served by preserving the vehicles of all types from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
New this year, and a favorite of the crowd by lunchtime, was the USO Puget Sound Mobile Canteen, a 32-foot motor home retrofitted to provide traditional canteen service associated with its rich history of service to past generations. An extra was their full pit barbecue with volunteer Marines flipping and serving up hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, sodas, coffee or water to hungry event visitors.
Just adjacent to the canteen was the Kitsap Humane Society’s mobile pet adoption trailer that garnered lots of attention from potential families interested in adopting a dog or cat. Another plus was information on pet licensing and low-cost micro chipping identification of pets.
George Lang, 79, and retired from the Navy, said he makes it a point to attend Military Appreciation Day for a couple of reasons that are important to him.
“I’ve been retired from the military longer than many of these young military folks have been alive. But it’s important to me to see what is new and where things are going. That keeps me young and up-to-date at least. The Armed Forces are doing many important things both here and overseas,” Lang said.
As the entertainment continued inside from the choral tunes of the Independents to the enthusiastic Olympic Brass Ensemble and the Navy Band Northwest, civilians and military, along with people from businesses and service organizations exchanged in conversation and information that culminated in what Military Appreciation Day is all about.