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Group seeks Valley's WWII veterans

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - World War II veterans have been waiting more than 50 years to be nationally recognized via a memorial, and a group of residents want to make sure every Valley resident who fought overseas will receive their due next spring.

On May 29, 2004, a Memorial Day weekend ceremony at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will bring to an end an 11-year effort to honor America's World War II veterans when a memorial is unveiled. The memorial was authorized by Congress in 1993, with construction beginning in September of 2001.

Kathy Kerr, president of the Snoqualmie Valley American Legion Auxiliary No. 79, is heading an effort to hold a local ceremony that day aimed at honoring Valley World War II veterans past and present.

"I know there are a lot of World War II veterans still living," she said.

Kerr has enlisted the help of local historian Dave Battey and David Lake of the Veteran's of Foreign Wars Post 9476 to help her track down Valley veterans.

The group has begun scouring historic photographs and documents, including a recently discovered copy of a Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Co. newsletter collection, for the names of those who served in World War II.

Kerr is working to secure a site for the celebration that she hopes will include World War II memorabilia, era automobiles, and a re-creation of two name boards that were used to display the names of soldiers fighting overseas in the 1940s - one board was displayed in downtown North Bend while the other was located in front of the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Co.

The group hopes Valley residents will pass along additional names of veterans, and not just those who served in the U.S. forces.

Battey said many Valley residents went to other countries to fight prior to the United States entering the war in 1942, and those names are just as important to the group.

It is hard to pinpoint a reason why it took so long for such a national memorial to be proposed, the three involved in the project state.

Lake, a veteran who served 33 months in the South Pacific, said when soldiers returned from the war, little was made of the event.

"We just came home and went to work," said Lake.

Kerr, whose father received the Silver Star for gallantry in World War II, said the war was not discussed when it finally ended in 1945.

During high school, Kerr said she'd often ask her father to help with homework dealing with the war, but the task was too emotionally difficult for him.

"He would look at me and tell me 'I can't,' and would cry," she said.

That difficulty among World War II veterans may have led to the issue of a memorial being pushed back for so long, Kerr said.

Whatever the reason for the delay, Kerr and the others said it's time to honor those involved.

If you know a Valley World War II veteran, contact Kathy Kerr at P.O. Box 632, North Bend, 98045, or by e-mail at kerrjk@earthlink.net; Dave Battey at dave_battey@msn.com, or David Lake at 38211 Southeast 85th, Snoqualmie, 98065.

Travis Peterson can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at travis.peterson@valleyrecord.com.

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