Memorial Day: Some gave all
Last updated 6/1/2017 at Noon
More than 1,000 people gathered under clear blue skies on Memorial Day at two Edmonds locations to remember those killed in war.
They paid their respects at the 35th annual Memorial Day ceremony at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium. And they paid their respects at the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new Edmonds Veterans Plaza.
This year’s theme was a “Welcome Home” for Vietnam veterans.
All the many symbols of a military service were present, including an invocation, presentation of colors, pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America” and a performance of “Stars and Stripes” by Mike Barber on bagpipes.
A familiar face was Edmonds-Woodway junior Olivia Olson, who presented her award-winning VFW essay by heart. She also won the last two years. E-W sophomore Jenna Brock presented her “Welcome Home” poem.
Cemetery board member Jerry Janacek was master of ceremonies. The program concluded with a rifle salute by the Washington National Honor Guard, Camp Murray, and taps by 1st Sgt. Chris Edwards of the Washington National Guard.
Twenty-four young men from south Snohomish County who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict received special honors: Darrell Eugene Ayers (MIA); Donald Richard Cote; John Wayne Cote; Kenneth Gay; Michael Noel Hoban; Edward Arthur Hopkins; Morris Keith James; Anthony Michael Leach; William Frederick Michel; Steven Jeffery Minkler; Gregory Phillip Moser; Philip Eugene Nickerson; Dave Alan Olson; Ronald Wayne Parker; Ronald Page Paschall; Benny Arnold Starr; Jerald David “Rocky” Swan; Thomas Nickell Teague; Galen Eugene Warren; Miles Gene White; Richard Edward Wilkins; Donald A. Wise; Kenneth Lee Worley; and Dale Arnold Yatemen.
It was Edmonds residents Ron Clyborne and Jim Traner, both Vietnam War veterans, who began the three-year push to bring the Edmonds Veterans Plaza to fruition. They both wanted the city to have a place for all veterans past, present and future to gather.
Edmonds did not have a veterans memorial in place, save for a large rock in front of the police station and a monument by the Edmonds Historical Museum. (The monument will be moved to the cemetery later this year.)
Clyborne, Traner and a number of volunteers helped raise $540,000 mostly from private donors and the city provided $106,000, for a total of $646,000.
The Plaza is located on the grounds of the Edmonds Public Safety Complex at Fifth Avenue North and Bell Street. It is a joint project of the Edmonds posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion and the city of Edmonds.
The hour-long dedication program featured a keynote speech by retired Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto, former Air Force deputy chief of staff. Other speakers were state Rep. Strom Peterson of Edmonds, Plaza committee co-chairs Clyborne and Maria Montalvo, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and noted “Fallen Heroes” veteran artist Michael Reagan.
After his emotional speech, where he said he “finally felt like he was home,” Reagan presented Sydney Smith Zvara with a drawing of her father. Stuart H. Smith was a frogman in World War II. Sydney's sister, Heidi Smith, was unable to attend.
Retired Navy Capt. Barry Crane of North Sound Church provided the invocation, and the Mosaic Choir sang the national anthem under the direction of conductor Allan Skoog.
Still to come at the plaza is an information kiosk and a statue commemorating military working dogs, the latter expected in July.