It was a regular overcast day when the one hundred or so scouts gathered on the newly constructed Tsunami Landing. Each scout, whether a Boy Scout or Cub Scout, was given an 3-foot by five-foot American flag on a standard to hold during the upcoming ceremony.
We were gathered for the dedication of the landing to the lives that were lost when a tsunami swept through the tiny seaside city. Before officials took to the podium, we were all given a brief lesson in how to maintain our ranks and how to hold the standards.
Our instructions were simple: when the American and California state flags were presented to the crowd, we were to come to attention. After the flags were placed in their respective holders on either side of the podium, we were to go to parade rest, meaning our feet shoulder width apart, our left hand behind our back and the flag we were each holding, dipped forward the full length of our arm.
While there were several speakers that day, the one who stands out the most was Congressman Don Clausen. Not only was he the event’s main speaker, he was also the catalyst behind getting federal funding to creat a high wave break to protect both the harbor and dock, but also the town.
Congressman Clausen was also the driving power to secure monies to help rebuild the nearly 70 city blocks affected by the tsunami. He was eventually voted out of office in the early 1980s.
Every time I return to the north coast, I try to visit Tsunami Landing. I also toss a couple of coins in the multi-concrete seagull festooned fountain that adorns the center of the plaza, thankful I was a part of that historical day so long ago.