American Legion riders raise flag for Tyler

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As many as 100 friends and family members gathered Sunday, Aug. 29, to celebrate the life of Tyler Braithwaite, a 17-year-old Sequim High School junior who died March 28 in an automobile accident near Slab Camp.

The ceremony included a flagpole dedication. The flagpole was put up by Braithwaite's grandfather Bill Hughes, "with the help and donations of many," said Tammy Sullenger, Braithwaite's mother. The flag was flown in Braithwaite's honor over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 14. It was presented to Hughes, along with a certificate memorializing the event.

A plaque at the foot of the flagpole bears a quote: "Being Yourself is the Greatest Gift in Life." The line is drawn from a poem written by Braithwaite in October 2009.

Sullenger said, "The quote really says it all and wraps up why Tyler was loved by so many ... he was just himself."

The celebration of life and flagpole dedication were held at the home of Braithwaite's grandparents, Bill and Carol Hughes. Members of the American Legion Riders were on hand to show their support for the family.

Sullenger is veterans coordinator for the Clallam County board of commissioners and has created strong ties with local veterans. Of the more than two dozen Riders at the ceremony, Sullenger said, "It's their way of supporting the family through times of tragedy."

Bobby Cannon, a Riders member, read comments prepared by Sullenger.

She wrote, "We are here to remember what a life he lived, but also how our lives have been touched by him. We lost an amazing person five months ago and there is not a day that goes by we do not think about him. Tyler loved people and would be touched to see all of you come together in his honor."

"His loss has been devastating to our family and the many who knew and loved him and we cannot put into words the gratitude for the support that we have received since Tyler's death.

"In his 17 years Tyler lived ... and through that living we all have come to realize and embrace that he was a tremendous individual who has touched our hearts.

"Many here have shared that no matter where Tyler was or what he was doing, he was always smiling. His personality, outgoing nature and contagious smile will be missed by all."

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