After a short ceremony Monday at Toledo’s Kemp Olson Memorial Park, several veterans and their families took a few moments to read the names of friends and neighbors inscribed on the bricks of the Veterans Wall of Honor.
“I know a lot of them on the wall,” said Lewis Zion, of Onalaska’s American Legion Post 508. “As a kid growing up, you know a lot of people, but you didn’t know they were in the service.”
The memorial wall honors both living and dead veterans. Don Buswell paused Monday near his own name, inscribed near that of his grandfather, wounded while fighting for the north in the Civil War, his brother, who flew 44 missions as a pilot in the Pacific during World War II, and his niece.
“I probably know a fourth of them, or a third of them,” he said of the names on the wall.
Buswell, like his brother Anor Buswell, was a pilot in the Air Corps, a precursor to the Air Force.
“All I did was have fun when I was in the service,” he said.
Members of Winlock and Onalaska American Legion posts 101 and 508, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3409, members of Boy Scouts Troop 324 and Girl Scouts Troop 40512 and other volunteers held Memorial Day Ceremonies throughout the day Monday in the south end of Lewis County, striving to leave no veteran’s sacrifice forgotten.
“They deserve that honor,” said Mitch Davis, incoming post commander of Winlock’s American Legion Post.
Some veterans buried at the cemeteries visited Monday have no living relatives left.
“We want people to know these people aren’t forgotten,” he said.
Short ceremonies were held starting at 9:30 a.m. at Napavine Cemetery, the St. Urban Catholic Cemetery near Winlock, the Vader Catholic Cemetery, the Little Falls Ceremony, the Winlock Cemetery, the St. Francis Mission Cemetery, the Lone Hill Cemetery, the Toledo Cemetery and finally the Veterans Wall of Honor at Kemp Olson Memorial Park in Toledo.
In preparation for Monday’s event, members of Common Ground Toledo, a nonprofit group dedicated to beautifying Toledo with plants, planted an “Honor Garden,” said Common Ground volunteer Linda Bird-Sonne. The garden includes plants such as patriot hosta, Dicentra, commonly known as “bleeding heart,” and red Japanese maple, Bird-Sonne said.
About 20 veterans were involved in the event, along with a few Boy Scouts and one Girl Scout, said event coordinator and former Winlock American Legion Post commander Wendy Carolan.
“We want to make sure all military veterans are remembered for their sacrifice and their service,” she said.
While a small number of veterans participated in Monday’s ceremonies, they are a dedicated group. Tom Boone, of Lewis County’s 40 et 8, has worked to honor veterans by participating in the rifle salutes since the 1970s. He led Monday’s salute.
He said he’ll stop “when they put me in the ground.”
Several of the veterans in attendance said they hoped to attract more volunteers and younger veterans to participate in future events.
“A lot more communities need to get involved doing this,” said Dave Dempewolf, chaplain at the Winlock American Legion Post.
At the final ceremony of the day, veterans and volunteers left a wreath and a rose at the memorial wall and joined in a prayer asking to make veterans’ sacrifices worthwhile.
“Help us preserve the high ideals for which our brothers and sisters died,” Master Sgt. Edward (Sparrow) Sparrowgrove said while leading the prayer.