Welcome to Armed Forces Day

To some it may be hard to believe that it was 60 years ago, when the city of Bremerton came together to honor one of its truest and bravest heroes, Bud Hawk, with a parade through the then-bustling streets of downtown, but yes, it has been that long.

Back in 1948, America was celebrating the end of World War II as peace, justice and all things well and good reigned supreme around the globe, but that victory came at the cost of 100s of 1,000s of lives. Patriotism was the anthem of the day and the United States was truly the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Bremerton itself was boom town as the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Navy provided jobs aplenty and downtown was the place to be with shops, restaurants and everything imaginable as signs of economic prosperity.

Over the years as the country almost forgot the Korean War and was torn apart by the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Day celebrations continued as multiple generations came together to celebrate the military and all those who served. Downtown Bremerton evolved with it as it drew visitors from all across the state and nation to the urban center of Kitsap County.

The 1980s weren’t exactly boom times for downtown, but that never stopped the Armed Forces Day activities from returning life to otherwise silent, sleepy streets. The 1990s weren’t much better for downtown or the entire city for that matter, but through it all the Navy and the shipyard remained.

Now as the city is undergoing a Lazarus-like resurrection, there is more to see for all those making their annual pilgrimage to downtown Bremerton for the longest running Armed Forces Day parade in the nation.

The Harborside Fountain Park is in full bloom and if the weather man is right, the temperatures should be perfect for taking a stroll through the fountains and the wading pools. The marina is now open with its expanded breakwater and increased public access. The tunnel is, well, the tunnel, but the construction shouldn’t detract from the festiveness of this weekend.

With more flags than you can shake a stick at and the aromas of early morning pancake breakfasts and barbecue in the afternoon, it’s going to be hard not to feel a sense of American pride even if you’re not exactly thrilled with where our servicemen and women are deployed these days.

Armed Forces Day isn’t about politics or right or wrong; it’s about the brave men and women who willingly serve in the Armed Forces so that every American can enjoy the freedoms they do today and hopefully tomorrow. Wave the flag proudly even if it is only for today.

Come one, come all. Come join in the all the fun and patriotism that can only be found in downtown Bremerton as Armed Forces Day rolls in for its 60th anniversary celebration.

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