Seaside High School Student Body President Taylor Barnes made a moving demonstration of patriotism and respect for our nation’s veterans Wednesday. “Never before have I given a speech with so much weight and meaning,” Taylor said at the Seaside Downtown Development Association Veterans Day program at the Seaside Convention Center. “That is why I am honored to be speaking on behalf of the people I’ve always looked up to as role models.”
Taylor intends to enter the Naval Academy next fall.
“Veterans like the ones that stand before me today have influenced me so that it has inspired me to follow in the footsteps of these men and women who have so bravely done so before me,” Taylor said. “What you veterans have done and continue to do inspires me to give my everything in everything I do. You are the most outstanding citizens America has to offer. I hope some day I can inspire people the same way you inspire me.”
Several hundred veterans, their families and area residents filled the lobby of the Convention Center. The Rev. David Sweeney, pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church, provided the invocation, followed by words from veterans Master Sergeant John Gates and Sergeant Lou Neubecker.
At 10:55 a.m., audience members stood and saluted as Scout Pack 540 raised the flag outside the center and Miss Clatsop County Alexis Mather sang the National Anthem.
Previewing the ceremony on Saturday night, the Clatsop County Sons of Beaches 4x4 Club held a parade of flags in honor of Veterans Day. About a dozen members of the club brought their four-wheel drive vehicles to Broadway decked out in flags and patriotic emblems to show their support for America’s veterans. Several members are former members of America’s armed forces, said local resident Jay Pitman, who served in the United States Navy for two years.
“We like to pay tribute and this was one of our ways of paying tribute,” Pitman said.
The procession started at the Seaside American Legion Post 99, traveled down Broadway to the Turnaround and finished at the Seaside Elks Lodge on Avenue A. The parade featured a rolling memorial float, created last year by Pitman, a member of Seaside American Legion Post 99 and the Legion Riders. The float is a tribute to veterans, past and present. It includes military flags representing all branches the military and other patriotic colors and symbols. Pitman included the names and photos of some local veterans who died, in addition to a photo of fallen soldier James Trebor.
On Monday night, the Seaside City Council issued a proclamation paying tribute to the “men and women who have risked their lives to preserve the liberty of our nation, the families who support them, and the heroes no longer with us.”
“Whether active duty, reserve or National Guard, they are our nation’s finest citizens, and they have shown the heights to which Americans can rise when asked and inspired to do so,” wrote Mayor Don Larson.
‘Veterans, you give me a type of person to look toward and model myself after. I hope that someday I can inspire people in the same way you have inspired me. You represent an achievement greater than anything money can buy. An achievement that can only be earned through extraordinary duty, service and honor. But this speech is not about me. It is about paying our respects to those we are forever indebted to.’
— Taylor Barnes, Seaside High School Student Body President