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Safeway honors veterans in Bothell
Everyone knows about the national debt in money terms, said Jake Cabuag, as the crowd looked on Friday morning during the new Bothell Safeway's Veterans Day ceremony and grand opening.
"Very few bring up the biggest national debt of all, that of which Americans owe to our veterans. Our debt to these heroes can never be replaced, but our gratitude and respect must last forever," added the department commander of the state's American Legion, which features 35,000 veterans.
Cabuag said he's proud to be a part of Bothell Post 127, which includes Jennifer Marshall, now a member of the Armed Forces after returning from duty in Afghanistan two months ago. She served there for a little over a year.
"Jennifer, thank you for serving," he said as the crowd of 200 applauded.
The department commander paused, and then noted that the United States is important enough for veterans to endure long separations from their families, miss the birth of their children, freeze in sub-zero weather, lose limbs and, far too often, experience the loss of lives.
Quoting from one of his American Legion comrades' speech to Congress, Cabuag said, stressing each sentence: "It is not the nature of American warriors to complain. Warriors endure. Warriors make due with less. Warriors finish the job, no matter how hard, no matter what is asked."
Greg Sparks, president of Safeway's Seattle division, led the ceremony and noted:
"Sometimes we don't also thank the family members of veterans, because they make a tremendous sacrifice, as well, in supporting their loved ones." (His kid brother is also a veteran and Sparks wrote many letters of support during the years his sibling was serving the country.)
One of the most powerful speeches came from Jeffery Sanchek, a veteran who's involved with the Wounded Warriors Project. All the nation's Safeways raised funds for the project last weekend.
Sanchek went from serving as a medic and Navy diver in Iraq to returning home with a leg injury and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
While stationed in Baghdad, he was speaking with his wife via satellite phone when rockets struck a building behind him that housed 162 men and women who were sleeping at the time.
"I realized real quick, that with that first experience of rockets flying overhead, improvised explosive devices, mortar attacks… that something was going to be different over the next few months," he said.
"When I came home, something happened that wasn't expected — you see, I brought the war home with me," he added. "When I came home into a place of safety with my family, getting to go watch football games again, and that place where I should have felt absolutely safe and secure — I was absolutely miserable."
As his post-traumatic stress disorder worsened, his drinking and anger impacted his family and quality of life.
After he was asked to retire from the Navy, he "felt like a failure," but his wife urged him to look into the Wounded Warriors Project. It's helped him along the way to finding a better life, he said.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe and Rep. Derek Stanford, both of Bothell, also shared their thoughts with the crowd at the Veterans Day ceremony.
"We need to thank them for the rights that we value and cherish. We don't speak about them very often, but when they're threatened on this soil and any other soil, our people stand up and defend them — the right for free speech, the right to assemble, the right to worship as we choose and the right for the freedom of press," McAuliffe said.
Added Stanford: "By serving in our armed forces, our veterans have made a very deep and personal gift to each and every one of us. They've worked for the greater good, they've risked, they've sacrificed for the benefit of our country."