Robert Wilkinson of Pasco held his salute for the full singing of The Star-Spangled Banner on Friday in Kennewick's Columbia Park, despite frigid temperatures.
The 80-year-old retired Navy Gunner's Mate 1st Class feels a particularly personal patriotism on Veterans Day because he is one of six brothers, all of whom were in the military, during either World War II or the Korean War.
About 150 people joined Wilkinson at the Regional Veterans Memorial ceremony to remember and honor the men and women who have served in the military to defend and protect the U.S.
Veterans Day also was observed Friday in Pasco at Columbia Memorial Gardens, where Pasco Councilman Al Yenney was the guest speaker, and at the seventh annual Prosser Thank You Vets Parade.
In Kennewick, keynote speaker Navy Capt. Michael Terrell, commanding officer of the U.S. Pacific Command, Detachment 701, said the "power and presence of this place" could be felt, even on a cold day.
"It is an honor to be here," Terrell said, adding that the purpose is to honor the dead and the living who gave of themselves as veterans.
"We celebrate for a few seconds and then move on with our lives. It is appropriate we remember those who sacrificed," said Terrell, the "son of a sailor who went to Vietnam."
Terrell, who also is a consulting landscape architect in Spokane and helped with the original design of the memorial, said he is looking forward to a day when memorials no longer will be necessary, when the world will have learned to live in peace.
Army Maj. Chris Buroker, an officer with the Kennewick Police Department, also spoke, reminding the audience that one of the best things a community can do for veterans is to support them and be willing to offer them jobs when they return from active duty.
"Thank you to all you employers who employ or support a vet," Buroker said.
The ceremony included a 21-gun salute performed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Cook-Erickson Post No. 7952 in Richland, a cannon salute provided by the Washington State National Guard and the posting of colors by the Knights of Columbus Veterans Color Guard. Richard Rogers sang the national anthem.
It was the 10th annual remembrance at the Regional Veterans Memorial, which was built through volunteer efforts of Tri-City businesses and contractors. It was a personal project of Tom and Joyce McMillin. They shepherded the project to completion after obtaining a donation of large granite slabs from Hanford that would become the centerpieces of the memorial.
"We have a world class memorial because of all the men and women who served," Buroker said.
Following the ceremony, Wilkinson, who came wearing his military ribbons and badges, said he was in the Navy 22 years, having been aboard the USS Toledo, a heavy cruiser, and on five different destroyers and an amphibian fleet.
He joined the service in 1948, was in Korea and Vietnam before being stationed in Germany.
"(Coming here) shows respect for a bunch of wonderful men who fought for this country. Some came back. Some didn't. A salute is respect for our country," Wilkinson said.