The city of Tukwila honored current and past military service members during its Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10.
About 50 people attended the ceremony at the Tukwila Community Center.
Joe Duffie, Tukwila City Council president and Army veteran, came up with the idea of having a Veterans Day celebration in the city last year.
“I think our city needs to show the respect for the vets,” he said. “We gave up our life, our family to make sure America stays free.”
Duffie served almost 32 years in the military.
“I did not sign up for the Army,” he said. “I was drafted with no choice. … I am proud of it. I am very proud.”
Duffie hopes the annual ceremony continues for many years.
“I want to keep it going, not only for me, but I want the city to continue this,” he said. “We have vets that serve in the police department. We have vets all throughout the city that work. We have vets in public works. They are all over. Let’s honor these people. The only way to do that is to show that we respect them.”
Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg, an Air Force veteran, gave a brief history of Veterans Day during the ceremony.
“Our presence here today, recognizing Nov. 11 as Veterans Day, helps focus attention on the important purpose of honoring the men and women who have served our country,” he said. “We celebrate America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
Lt. Col. William L. Blakey, from the 66th Theater Aviation Command Washington Army National Guard, was the guest speaker for the event. He said about 10 percent of Washington state residents are veterans.
“What is special about veterans is they have a choice to serve or whether not to serve,” he said. “A choice to serve in the greatest military of the world, but veterans don’t have a choice of where they serve. Veterans go to places that most people would never go. Veterans see things that some will never see and never want to see. Veterans will experience personal things some of us will never understand. That is why veterans are great Americans.”
Blakey encouraged those in attendance to remember the sacrifices veterans make.
“Make sure you make it a point when you approach a veteran to shake their hand, or maybe even give them a hug,” he said. “But most importantly, thank them for the sacrifices endured to provide a country that is the freest and greatest in the world, the United States of America.”
Showalter Middle School eighth-grader Alex Zuniga sang the National Anthem, and soldiers from the 66th Theater Aviation Command Washington Army National Guard presented the colors.
The Teamsters Local Union No. 117 in Tukwila provided lunch after the ceremony.