Cemetery will offer a ‘Welcome Home’ for Vietnam vets

Memorial outside museum to be moved to cemetery later this year
By Brian Soergel | May 25, 2017

The 35th annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery is dedicated to Vietnam veterans.

Brian Soergel photos

More than 30 years ago, men and women who made it home after serving in the Vietnam War were sometimes subjected to taunts and protests.

Not this Monday, when the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium has its 35th annual Memorial Day ceremony. This year’s theme is a “Welcome Home” for Vietnam veterans.

All are invited to the one-hour ceremony, at 11 a.m., which will be observed rain or shine.

Cemetery board member Jerry Janacek is master of ceremonies. Program highlights include the presentation of colors, songs and music by the Kinetic Community Singers, the Edmonds-Woodway High School Brass Quintet, and Mike Barber, piper.

Edmonds-Woodway junior Olivia Olson will read her award-winning VFW essay (she also won last year), and Mayor Dave Earling will speak. The program concludes with a rifle salute by the Washington National Honor Guard, Camp Murray, and taps by 1st Sgt. Chris Edwards.

The Edmonds Memorial Cemetery was founded by the International Order of Oddfellows in 1894 on 4.5 acres of homestead land deeded to the city by pioneer Thomas White. It was placed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places in 1972 and has 625 veterans interred there. In honor of Memorial Day, graves of all veterans will be marked with a white cross and a miniature U.S. flag.

In 1946, the cemetery was sold to a succession of private individuals. In 1982, a lifetime Edmonds resident and businessman purchased the cemetery and willed it to the city of Edmonds, which now maintains its upkeep.

Thousands of people are buried in the cemetery, including 14 former Edmonds mayors, 400 veterans of six wars, and many Edmonds pioneers, including founder George Brackett.

A project is underway to modernize management of the cemetery and map existing plots through a geographical information system. It’s part of the Sustainable Cities Partnership, a collaboration between the city, Western Washington University and the Association of Washington Cities to focus and promote sustainability.

In addition, the cemetery will receive a new, permanent monument later this year, one that might be familiar to residents.

Located outside the Edmonds Historical Museum on Fifth Avenue North, it is inscribed with the following: “Dedicated to those of School District 15 who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country.”

It includes names of those killed in World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Two names were later added at the bottom of the memorial: One for Army Sgt. Major Larry Strickland, killed on Sept. 11 in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and one for Marine Cpl. Steven Rintamaki from Lynnwood, killed in Iraq in 2004.

There are 79 names on the memorial.

Twenty-four young men from south Snohomish County who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict will receive 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; and Jerald David “Rocky” Swan.

Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium is at 100th Avenue West and 15th Street SW, one block north of the Westgate QFC. Street parking is available along 100th Avenue West and 15th Avenue. Parking within the cemetery is limited to those with disabled parking permits only. Limited seating is available.

Guests are encouraged to bring folding chairs. Refreshments, including cookies provided by the Lynnwood Emblem Club #366 and coffee from Walnut Street Coffee, will be served after the program. Visitors also are invited to stroll the cemetery grounds and take a self-guided tour using one of the cemetery’s walking maps.

 

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