Opinion

No golden shovels, but dirt is moving at Snoqualmie Valley Veteran's Memorial

It was a darkening evening in November 2008 when a couple of us from the Record marched down River Street to what was supposed to be the first groundbreaking for the Snoqualmie Valley Veteran’s Memorial.

The photo session captured a line of men, local officials and uniformed dignitaries, hefting shovels along a gravel strip, a crowd of families watching in the background.

Flash forward to July 1 of this year, when the ground broke for a second time for the all-Valley memorial. There were no mayors or golden shovels around, but this time, the dirt really did move.

That first groundbreaking was meant to spur the project to action, but instead progress slowed. Maybe it was the recession, maybe not, but things didn’t go according to plan.

The idea stayed alive, though, and the situation changed, slowly at first, then with a bang. Two years ago, the Snoqualmie Valley Veteran’s Memorial Committee formed to push for a new monument in association with the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, American Legion Post 79, VFW Post 9476, the Tolt Historical Societies and the city of Snoqualmie. Interest jumped with fundraisers and outreach efforts last year, and donations hit the $35,000 mark this past winter, triggering construction—so, another groundbreaking.

The photo we ran last week shows a different, smaller but lively crowd: More women, in the front rank leading the way; businesspeople who are donating their time and resources; longtime local volunteers proving their  worth by getting this project moving again.

Over the last year, I’ve followed and focused on this project in the newspaper with a purpose in mind. I wanted to help the group of volunteers championing this project—many of them among the most engaged citizens I’ve ever met, such as Dave Battey, Harley and Kathy Brumbaugh, Dave Lake, Kathy Kerr, Chris Chartier, Bob Hamerly and Key to the City holder Gloria McNeely—overcome stagnation and achieve their dream.

Seeing this project through to completion would be a great thing. Think how far we’ve all come, how the entire Valley has changed in the last four years. Finishing the memorial park will be a proud moment, not only for those who have put their time, energy and money into the cause out of personal passion and patriotism, but also to show others that community-minded efforts can succeed.

When you reflect on how tough progress can be in today’s climate of economic sluggishness and civic detachment, when folks have fewer resources of time, money or interest, the creation of something new, a place meant to tie the Valley together, becomes worthy of note.

This November, 11-11-11, I want to see a the biggest crowd yet on River Street. Let’s all be there to reflect on the soldiers and servicepeople, from all parts of the Valley, who are commemorated there, and also celebrate the efforts of our neighbors who made this memorial possible. That this can come to fruition is a monument for us all.

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