A day before the nation halted to observe Veterans Day, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners took some time during their meeting to hear some local veterans talk about what the day means to them.
Although the meeting was scattered with references to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it forced everyone to meet over Zoom rather than in person, those present also highlighted the importance of celebrating the holiday.
Mark Moffett, incident commander for the Thurston County Incident Management Team, is an Army veteran. He said it’s good to take some time to celebrate when you can, to create a sense of normalcy when the world doesn’t seem normal.
Moffett introduced his daughter, Maddison Moffett, during the meeting, calling her “my biggest support and advocate through my military career.”
Maddison Moffett, a student at Capitol High School, said she hopes to someday serve in the Coast Guard.
“At my elementary and middle school, [Veterans Day] was an enormous celebration. We got the entire school together in the gym and watched a slide show that commemorated every family member of our students and staff that served,” she said.
She was always proud to see her own family show up on that slide show, she said.
Tyler Barrientos, who works on the Thurston County Incident Management Team, works to identify outbreaks of COVID-19, in an effort to curb the virus’s spread. He’s also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. On Tuesday, he told the commissioners that he had just returned from a vacation, where he met up with four other Marines he served with.
“It made me realize that as close as we are, or were, in our time in the Marines, we are totally different people now. But at the same time, we are able to revert back to ourselves at the moment we last saw each other,” he said.
He said the principles he learned as a Marine can be applied to his current job: stomping out COVID-19. By working as a team — combining talents and experiences — everyone can overcome the current set of challenges, he said.
Sean “Smitty” Smith, an Army veteran, chair of the Thurston County Veterans Advisory Board and one of the architects of the Lacey Veterans Services Hub, thanked the commissioners and other county staff for supporting veteran service projects.
“The hub was just one goal that became a reality. And I’m just looking forward to what our board, what the commissioners and what the city of Lacey can do for our veterans moving forward,” Smith said.
Liza Narciso, an Army veteran and member of the Thurston County Veterans Advisory Board and State Department of Veteran Affairs, travelled everywhere during her and her husband’s military careers. While she initially wished she was stationed somewhere with sunnier weather than Joint Base Lewis-McChord, she’s ultimately glad she ended up in Washington.
“Washington has been a great place for me and my family, and I am so thankful that I landed this job with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs,” Narciso said.
Each of the commissioners expressed thanks to the veterans who spoke, and read a proclamation in honor of Veterans Day.
“The reality is, we would not be here enjoying the freedoms that all of us … are enjoying today if it had not been for the willingness of our veterans to step forward and do what was needed to be done to keep us free in this country,” said Commissioner Gary Edwards, an Army veteran.