The Puget Sound region enjoys one of the longest periods of peace and stability in the world. Despite its diverse population and an international border running through it, Puget Sound has not seen military action since the "Pig War" of 1859. The Pig War was a little known skirmish between the US Army and British Navy over boundary disputes in the San Juan Islands. A farmer's pig was the only casualty in the 13 year stand off. Perhaps it was this little crisis that prompted the US government to ensure the protection of Puget Sound waters.
Today, along with the beauty and serenity that abounds the inland waters of the Northwest, there is an underlying sense of security when one takes notice of the many military installations guarding the area. Foreign intruders could possibly meet a no more formidable combatant then here. Between Whidbey Island Navel Air Station's squadron of attack aircraft, The Navel Submarine Base at Bangor where the deep waters of Hood Canal conceal weapons of unimaginable destruction, and Fort Lewis which is now one of the nations top four army bases. - We are well protected.
No one can really argue that a strong military presence here has not shaped the region. With the bountiful fish stocks, timber and mining recourses, the Northwest Territory could have easily become a conflict zone like so many other resource-rich areas of the world. Peace and stability has nurtured prosperity. In less than 200 years, this forested wilderness has become one of the most desirable places to live in the world. While the enterprising pioneers and visionary industrialists take credit for this great transformation, it is the presence of the US military that has quietly and peacefully allowed it all to happen.
Current major military facilities around Puget Sound include Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Bangor Navel Submarine Base, Bremerton Naval Ship Yards, Fort Lewis Army Base, Naval Station Everett, and the US Coast Guard Station in Seattle.
To catch a glimpse of our military past, pay a visit to Fort Warden (Port Townsend) and Fort Casey (Whidbey Island) State parks. These forts were constructed to guard the entrance to Admiralty Inlet and were a key deterrent during World War I and World War II. Sand Point Navel Air Station on Lake Washington (now Magnuson Park) operated from 1920 to 1970 and provided critical support during WWII.
From the shores of Puget Sound on any given day you can see military ships and planes arriving from and departing to regions of conflict around the globe--they are filled with young men and women who have volunteered to put themselves at risk in hopes of sharing what we have here with the rest of the world. On this Veterans Day, we all owe a nod of gratitude for what enabled the Puget Sound region to flourish peacefully all these years.