I was lucky enough to spend Memorial Day 2012 in Beaverton, OR. It is a relatively large city of 90,000, sixth largest city in Oregon, second largest in Washington County. But it has about it the feel of “small town America,” a feel of what has been called America’s “Heartland.”
On Memorial Day 2012 Beaverton’s heart was on display. A crowd estimated at in excess of a thousand gathered at Beaverton’s small, beautifully maintained and unique Veterans Memorial Park at Watson and 7th Street. They gathered in a respectful attitude of gratitude to remember the service and sacrifice of the some 1.4-million American soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, and submariners who have given their lives in war in defense of American freedom.
The day began with rousing patriotic music played by the big (very big) band of American Legion Post 185, the “Rose City Musicians Post,” under Director Clement Norton. It is the only “Musicians’ Post” in Portland, or Oregon, and its members make great patriotic music.
While I was a stranger in Beaverton in my American Legion service cap from Riverside County, CA, standing next to me enjoying the music was a fellow Legionnaire whose Legion service cap indicated he is a Past Commander of American Legion Post 124, Beaverton, OR, which, I learned from him, created Veterans Memorial Park.
There are no strangers in the Legion, only comrade wartime veterans. So, when I commented on how impressed I was with Beaverton’s Veterans Memorial Park, Legionnaire Patrick Lynch enthusiastically told me how proud he is of Beaverton Post 124’s taking the lead to establish it.
“This was just a derelict park, nothing but bushes and winos,” Lynch said, as those who overheard him nodded in agreement. “We changed all that and created this beautiful veterans memorial through a lot of hard work by Legionnaires, the Auxiliary, other veterans and patriotic citizens here in Beaverton,” he said.
Pat Lynch is a Korean War Veteran of the U.S. Navy, who survived 32 months in the war zone on a Destroyer, DD-681, U.S.S. Hopewell. When I told him I’d like to write a story about the memorial for the Victoria Taft Show blog, Lynch smiled broadly, and said: “That woman — God, how I love that woman. I listen to her every day.”
It turned out, Pat Lynch is a fount of information about the creation of the memorial park. He took me on a tour of the monuments there, explaining them. He modestly minimized his own role (which in fact was large, he was Vice Commander
of Post 124 when the effort began), but celebrated and lauded the effort of others.
“The sparkplug for this entire effort was our late comrade, Robert F. Caufman, who was our Post Commander when we started in 1998,” Lynch said. ”It took the Post two years to complete the main monument. Bob’s energy and vision is what transformed a derelict park into the beautiful veterans memorial park you see today. “
The centerpiece of the memorial is a large, graceful black marble-faced monument, which sits on a base of rust-colored bricks. It is inscribed: “Beaverton Veterans Memorial Dedicated To All Veterans – All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” The seals of the various military service branches are engraved in the lower portion.
On each end of the monument is a tall black-granite pillar topped with a large bronze sculpted eagle with wings outspread. While the artist donated his services, Lynch said, Post 124 did not have the funds to pay the $9,000 for each bronze casting. Through bake sales and other fundraisers, the Post managed to raise $9,000 for one, and the then-Governor of Oregon matched those funds to provide the second eagle.
As for paying for the central monument itself, each of the bricks on which the monument is based represents a $75 contribution by individuals whose donations paid for the memorial, and its perpetual care.
There are brick sidewalls encompassing the base of the memorial, with benches on each corner to rest.
One of the long walls on the east side honors the Nisei Division of WWII, the most decorated Army Division. It was donated by the Nisei Veterans Association, and is inscribed: “We Japanese Americans Proudly Served In The United States Armed Forces With Honor And Loyalty.”
On the west side, there is a “Blue Star Memorial,” honoring the “Blue Star” families who had loved ones in military service. That memorial was established by the Pioneer District Garden Club of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs.
Directly south of the monument, is a huge war ship anchor and chain, symbolizing the U.S. Navy. It was donated by a citizen, Carl P. Hoff. To the east of the anchor, is a Marine 75-mm. howitzer, which was used in Marine amphibious landings on South Pacific islands, including at Iwo Jima, the bloodiest battle of WWII in the Pacific.
In front of the memorial, a walkway leads north to a monument honoring all Air Force personnel. It is a four-bladed propeller from a U.S. Neptune Bomber. It is supported by a black-marble pedestal.
Arranged beneath it on Memorial Day was the MIA missing warrior display of empty chair, and a table bearing a plate, cup and saucer, utensils, salt, candle and rose, in remembrance of all the some 88,000 American veterans still missing in action.
In the northeast corner of the Park, stands the largest submariners monument in the country, a sculpture of the bow of a submarine rising from beneath the sea. It is dedicated to all the submarines, and submariners, that have been lost in service. Highlighted on the monument is the U.S.S. Albacore, the submarine which sank the highest tonnage of enemy shipping in WWII. It was sunk just a few weeks from the end of the war off of the main island of Japan. All hands went down with the ship.
On the reverse side of the monument, there are plaques for each of the 52 submarines that went down in the history of the submarine service, showing the number of men who were lost with their submarines. In front of these plaques is an actual but unarmed, full-size Mark IV Navy torpedo.
Submariners refer to those lost submarines, and the 4,000 submariners who gave all serving on them, as being on “Eternal Patrol.”
Flags flew all around the perimeter of the rectangle-shaped park. Children passed out tiny hand-held Flags. Love of country, love for those who gave their lives for country, was palpable in Beaverton Veterans Memorial Park in the Memorial Day ceremonies.
Coincidentally (perhaps), when Post 124 Chaplain Wally Johnson gave the invocation, he first quipped, “Maybe we should pray for sunshine,” noting the heavy gray-to-black clouds gathering. Minutes after the reverent invocation closed and ceremonies proceeded, the clouds parted and the sun came out. It was that kind of a Memorial Day.
The ceremonies were led by Marv Doty, Commander of Beaverton Post 124. They began with bugler Peter Ohlmann sounding the “Call to Colors,” and the crowd rising as the colors were posted by the Post 124 Honor Guard.
The pledge of allegiance was led by Gary J. Kniss, U.S.M.C., of the Marine Corps League.
The National Anthem was sung, accompanied by the Post 185 American Legion Band.
Promptly on time, came a thunderous flyover by jet fighters from the Oregon National Guard 142nd Fighter Squadron.
Cathy Stanton, Beaverton Council President, representing the council and Mayor Danny Doyle, read a Memorial Day Proclamation.
Patti Perigo led the singing of God Bless America to band accompaniment.
Recognition ceremonies for Post 124 members who transferred to Post Everlasting since last Memorial Day included Auxiliary members who placed flowers on the monument as the name of each of the departed was read by Chaplain Wally Johnson.
The POW/MIA Ceremony was led by Post 124 First Commander Fred Meyer. They were honored by bagpiper Tim Birr, Pipe Major, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.
The Post 185 American Legion Band played the anthems of each of the military branches. Veterans stood and were recognized as the anthems of their respective service branches were played.
U.S. Navy Commander Timothy G. Sparks, introduced guest speaker USN Capt. Hildreth, who spoke eloquently and movingly of those who served, most poignantly of those who didn’t come home.
Keynote Speaker Chris Marshall, Director of the Regional Department of the Veterans Administration, spoke of the challenges facing those coming home from war, and the challenges to us to meet those needs.
The Tolling of the Boats ceremony was presented by Ray Lough, president of the National Blueback Association of submariners. He identified each of the 52 submarines which have gone down, and the numbers of submariners who are still on “Eternal Patrol.” As he read the names of the lost submarines and crews, a ship’s bell chimed.
After the benediction was made by Chaplain Wally Johnson and Taps played by bugler Peter Ohlmann, the Sons of the American Revolution, in colonial military uniform, fired three musket volleys.
The ceremonies ended with retirement of the colors.
At ceremonies end, Legionnaire Pat Lynch said, “I think it was a great success. I want to thank all involved, especially [Post 124] Commander Marv Doty who organized the event and served as master of ceremonies.”
Lynch noted that the Beaverton Veterans Memorial Park was initiated and established by American Legion Post 124, but was a accomplished by a common effort of veterans and other citizens; the city of Beaverton on whose land the memorial is located; and the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District, which maintains the park –for which Lynch has high praise for THPRD personnel.
He noted that that Memorial Day 2012 effort involved many members of the Bearverton Community who deserve thanks, including: Beaverton American Legion Post 124 and Auxiliary; Rose City (Portland) American Legion Musicians Post 185; VFW Post 4617 and Auxiliary; Disabled American Veterans-Beaverton Chapter 25; Marine Corps League – USS Oregon Detachment; Merchant Marine Veterans & Auxiliary; Oregon Air National Guard 142 Fighter Wing; Oregon Nisei Veterans Association; Elks Beaverton Lodge #1989; City of Beaverton; Beaverton Police Department; Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District; Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue; Valley Times Community Newspaper; Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs; Pioneer District Garden Club; Sons & Daughters of the American Revolution; Public & Citizen Supporters of Veterans Memorial Park.
I began this report by stating I am lucky to have been able to join in Memorial Day 2012 in Beaverton, OR. I am lucky. Lucky to be an American. Lucky to live in a country in which Americans like those in Beaverton still love their country; Americans who still believe it is a country and a culture worth fighting for, even to die for; Americans who still are grateful for those veterans whose service and sacrifice have kept us the most free people in the world.
Therefore, I gratefully join with them to remember, thank, and salute all of those who made possible this Memorial Day 2012, and every day that Americans live in freedom– the 1.4-million American veterans who have sacrificed their lives that Americans might be free.
May God bless and keep each and every one of them; and may they never be forgotten by the country, and the American people, for whose freedom they gave their lives.
[Rees Lloyd is a career-long civil rights attorney; a Life Member of The American Legion; and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.]
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