On a breezy Friday morning, a crowd of roughly 30 spectators gathered beneath the Snoqualmie Casino flagpole for a ceremony in recognition of Veterans Day.
The festivities, hosted by the Snoqualmie Casino, brought together members of the Snoqualmie Tribe, Snoqualmie-based American Post Legion, elected officials and veterans. The ceremony capped off with a raising of the American flag, led by the Snoqualmie Tribe’s Honor Guard.
Josh Fackrell, a retired U.S. Army master sergeant and Snoqualmie Tribal member, led the Tribe’s Honor Guard in that ceremony. Fackrell enlisted in the army out of high school and served 20 years in active duty, including three combat deployments, before retiring with honors in 2018.
In a speech prior to the flag ceremony, Fackrell asked veterans and those with veterans in their family to raise their right hands, emphasizing that nearly everyone has some connection to the military.
Washington state has over 560,000 veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, giving it the 12th highest population of veterans nationwide. That includes nearly 115,000 veterans in King County.
“It takes a family. It takes organizations like the American Legion, like the [Veterans of Foreign Wars]. It takes a tribe to support our veterans,” he said.
Fackrell said he asked specifically for spectators to raise their right hand because it’s what every military member does when taking their oath to serve.
“When I raised my right hand it was an awkward room and I felt alone,” he said. “Fast forward 24 plus years, I’m here with you now, and I have an extended family, a family of veterans. A community that comes together.”
Michael Pollina, a U.S. Navy veteran who fought in Vietnam, also spoke at the ceremony. Pollina serves as the chaplain of the Snoqualmie-based American Legion Renton-Pickering Post 79. He said his connection with the military began with his uncle, a World War II paratrooper who was captured behind enemy lines and spent six months in a prisoner of war camp.
Pollina recounted the history of Veterans Day, which began as Armistice Day, a remembrance of the soldiers killed during World War I. Following World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
“We have served so proudly and many of us left our families never to return,” Pollina said. “We should remember those who served, not just on a holiday, but everyday. We are the United States Navy, The Marine Corp, the Army, the Air Force and the Coast Guard.”
Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross and King County Councilmember Sarah Perry also addressed the crowd. Ross said she had multiple relatives who fought in both World Wars, while Perry shared that 1,150 veterans work in King County’s Government.