ARLINGTON — Although Dec. 7 marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Hall and Museum take time during the day to honor the service of all American military members as part of their annual "Military Day."
From 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, the Pioneer Hall will host yet another gathering of veterans and civilian members of the public alike, to recognize and pay tribute to all those in all branches of service, both those who have served and those who are currently serving.
Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association President Myrtle Rausch recalled that Military Day began in 2000, with the dedication of a military memorial on site, and has been observed each year since on Dec. 7, making this the 14th annual Military Day at the Pioneer Hall.
"We're received about 20 attendees a year in recent years, but we could see more this year, since Dec. 7 falls on a Saturday this year," Myrtle Rausch said.
Myrtle's husband, Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum caretaker Marty Rausch, noted that re-enactors and military vehicles have appeared frequently at previous Military Days, but he agreed with his wife that the day's main purpose is to afford community members an opportunity to meet veterans, and for veterans to exchange ideas with each other.
"My brother was in the Korean war, and it wasn't until after he died that I found out that he'd earned a Purple Heart," Marty Rausch said.
"I try to make it here every year, to show my respect and honor our past and present military members," said David King of Mill Creek, whose military vehicles can usually be seen parked outside the Pioneer Hall during its Military Days.
"We enjoy having the veterans here to tell their stories and show their photos," Myrtle Rausch said. "The community should come on by and say thanks to those who help keep them safe."
Mike Schanche spoke at last year's Military Day following his retirement from his 30-year Navy career, after having achieved the rank of Command Master Chief of Naval Station Everett.
"I see a lot of World War II veterans here, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Schanche told those in attendance at the Pioneer Hall last year. "You guys wrote the pages of history, which we've strived to uphold. You should take great pride in your legacy, especially as the young men and woman of today's armed forces continue to uphold your same high standards."
This year's Military Day will feature members of Boy Scout Troop 92 conducting the flag ceremony, and the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum opening its doors to showcase military history through the lens of local veterans.
Previous years' Military Days have fostered lively discussions among the veterans in attendance about the meaning of their service, and have occasionally even included observances such as the POW/MIA remembrance ceremony, whose empty table represents all the military members who have been prisoners of war or gone missing in action.