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Slideshow | Electric moments, tears as new Snoqualmie Valley Veteran's Memorial is unveiled
The gentle rain had turned into a deluge by the time the 71st name had been read and the final toll rung. Yet few of the crowd of 300 people who turned out for the dramatic unveiling of the new Snoqualmie Valley Veterans Memorial budged from the field.
The ceremony began at 11:11 a.m. with the chiming of a bell at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church—the same bell that had rung in celebration on this day, 93 years ago, when the Great War had ended. Electric moments continued as young Scouts raised flags for the first time and aged veterans pledged their continuing allegiance to the nation.
Four veterans, Bob Hamerly, Wally Koering, Dave Lake and Jim Posey grasped a silky maroon cloth and unveiled the carved stone slab at the center of the monument.
"It's beautiful, just amazing," said Koering, 75, who served in Europe as a soldier during the days of the Cuban missile crisis. He was very moved by the huge holiday turnout. "It makes tears come out my eyes."
Emcee and State Rep. Jay Rodne was among a slate of dignitaries to make the occasion, including Congressman Dave Reichert and Washington's "First Husband," Mike Gregoire.
"Today we dedicate a tangible symbol of our gratitude to local veterans and all of our brace men and women in uniform," Gregoire said. "Our veterans have risked their lives to defend the ideals that define us as Americans, and many, like the 71 individuals whose names on the this memorial, paid the ultimate price. Our veterans' service and sacrifice should never be far from our thoughts."
"We've got a greater responsibility than remembering one day," Reichert said. "We have the responsibility to carry on the American spirit that they fought for. People died for us to enjoy the freedom we have today…. Please, hold on to the American spirit. Share that with other people and let's bring this country together, so that we might live together in peace as the greatest nation on this earth."
"I praise God every day that we are free," said Snoqualmie Tribe representative Maryanne Hinzman, who talked about her efforts to take care of veterans' graves at the Fall City Cemetery. "I thank all of you that serve, that make us free."
The finished memorial plaza has cost about $50,000 in donations, both cash and in-kind. Ten boulders represent the communities of the Valley, including the now-lost towns of Edgewick, Cedar Falls and Snoqualmie Falls. The young Legacy Tree is a sycamore, reflecting vanished Snoqualmie Falls, which lost seven young people in World War II. A retaining wall is made of basalt from Snoqualmie Falls, and symbolizes the defense of our nation. Flagpoles overhead and plaques on the ground represent all military branches and local veteran's organizations.
The stone slab now visible at the memorial is a temporary feature, to be donated to the Snoqualmie Tribe and replaced by an even larger, Mount Si-carved slab.
As the crowd cleared and the rain continued to fall, Snoqualmie veteran Ethan Doerfler walked up to the ring of stones with his young nephew.
"I just wanted to see the new monument," said Doerfler, who often drives past the construction site and wanted to see the finished product.
"It looks good," he said. Doerfler was impressed by the turnout and touched by the remembrance and respect.
"I know they've been doing a lot of hard work on it."
• You can learn more about the memorial project and ongoing needs, or order a memorial brick to be placed at the plaza, at http://www.snoqualmievalleymuseum.org/veterans.html. Or, call Chris Chartier at (425) 888-9152 or by cell at (425) 802-5174.