ARLINGTON — The attendees numbered roughly around a dozen, but the fallen veterans who were honored at the Arlington Cemetery on Feb. 17 numbered more than 100, and one living veteran was able to see proper tribute paid to his departed father’s military service.
Members of the Washington Army National Guard Honor Guard and Arlington American Legion Post 76 conducted a group memorial for veterans of Snohomish County who had passed on without receiving the full military honors to which they were entitled. Although the veterans who were recognized during the Feb. 17 ceremony in Arlington included those who had served as far back as World War II and Korea, Sgt. Glenn Jones of the Washington Army National Guard Honor Guard explained that there were none that afternoon who had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Most veterans and their families are told now that they deserve and will receive these honors,” said Jones, who rang the bell 120 times during the ceremony, once after each name was read aloud by Arlington American Legion Post 76 member Dan Wyttenbach. “It’s more often the veterans who served years ago whose families weren’t aware that they were entitled to this. Part of the whole reason why we do this is so that more people will understand that every veteran has a right to this.”
After Sgt. Ron Washington of the Army National Guard Honor Guard played taps and members of American Legion Post 76 rendered a gun salute, Washington and Jones unfolded and refolded a United States flag, before Jones presented the flag to Arlington resident Richard Magnuson, the only attendee who had identified himself to the Army National Guard Honor Guard as a relative of one of the veterans whom they’d honored at that ceremony.
Peter Herman Magnuson, Richard’s father, was a fixture of the Arlington community until he passed away in 1994, on Memorial Day. Although Peter was interred at the Arlington Cemetery, Richard acknowledged that he hadn’t realized that his father could be honored through such a ceremony.
“He went through World War II as an Army mechanic, so he certainly deserved it,” said Richard Magnuson, who himself served in the Air Force from 1969-73. “I wish I’d known that we could do this back then.”
Richard Magnuson still reflects fondly on his own time in the service, through which he met his wife Liz — “If it wasn’t for Oktoberfest in Munich, you wouldn’t be here,” Liz Magnuson told their daughter Amy after the ceremony — he admitted that he and his father didn’t talk much about Peter’s years in the military, even though they both did stints in Germany.
“I wish he could have come over, while I was stationed there, to take a look at that country again,” Richard Magnuson said. “Like a lot of those guys, though, he just stayed quiet. He did his duty and came back home. I know he went to Normandy, although I’m not sure if he was there for D-Day, and I know that he made it all the way to Berlin. He didn’t like Jeeps, because he said they tipped over too easily,” Magnuson laughed. “Obviously, I can’t know for sure, but I think he’d feel honored by this recognition for what he went through.”
Jones noted that the Washington Army National Guard Honor Guard conducts these ceremonies once a month in Snohomish and Skagit counties, as well as two separate sites in King County, and anticipated that the next such ceremony in Snohomish County would probably return to the Arlington Ceremony on March 17.
“We try to conduct these events during weekends, to fit everyone’s schedules,” Jones said.
If you have any questions about this program, please contact Sgt. Jacob Smalser of the Washington Army National Guard Honor Guard at 360-815-0202.