Centralia College’s World War II Legacy Remembered at Memorial Day Ceremony


Around two dozen people were at Centralia College on Thursday morning as the college held its Memorial Day ceremony at the campus clocktower. 

Local artist Kaitee Carney sang the national anthem and then a moment of silence was observed before Centralia College student and campus Vet Corps navigator Paul Murphy explained the traditional cannon salute would not take place this year. 

“Sorry to say, the National Guard couldn’t make it out,” Murphy said. 

He clarified that just the artillery section couldn’t make it out, as there were some National Guardsmen present to help out with a barbecue following the ceremony. Murphy then introduced state Rep. Peter Abbarno, who delivered the ceremony’s keynote speech. 

Abbarno touched on Centralia College’s history and its role in the past with the military. 

“What I learned in my research is Centralia College played a pivotal role in World War II,” Abbarno said. 

During the war, the college served as a training ground to support the war effort, offering courses to train Navy pilots and civilians as radio technicians.

“Students and faculty members bought stamps and war bonds, gave blood, and even staffed an observation post in the middle of Noble Field to watch for potential enemy aircraft,” Abbarno said.  

He added many students and college staff members joined the war effort. Many local residents never returned from war service. 

“Today, we honor their memory and express our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices,” Abbarno said. 

Abbarno also emphasized what their sacrifices were made for, to protect the democratic society that exists in the U.S. where differing opinions can coexist and debates can be held. 

“That’s exactly what sets America apart from many countries around the world,” Abbarno said. 

Following the ceremony, attendees were treated to a barbecue. A makeshift memorial was also set up to allow people to write the name of a fallen service member on a star and pin it to a board next to Centralia College’s Boots-2-Books memorial statue.