Memorial Day may feel far away, but the chance to honor veterans is right outside your door.
Starting in April, four Dignity Memorial locations in Centralia, Morton, Tumwater and Bremerton will be handing out blue light bulbs and inviting all willing participants to shine them on their front porch as a tribute to veterans from May 29 through May 31. Memorial Day falls on May 31 this year.
Memorial Day typically honors soldiers who have died, but Dignity Memorial intends to pay tribute to all veterans, including those in active service and retirement.
Lisa Nelson, funeral director of Sticklin Funeral Chapel in Centralia, sees the tribute as a way to spread awareness and hopefully pull the community together to support our veterans.
Blue light tributes are frequently associated with honoring law enforcement, but Dignity Memorial wants this moment to be about veterans.
Nelson emphasized that the support for law enforcement is typically forthright, while veterans often go without. She notes there are always going to be veterans, and that support for them should be as ongoing as their service.
With a stepfather who served in Vietnam, honoring veterans is personal to her.
Nelson sees him as a hero and wants everyone to see veterans the same way.
“Regardless of where they are now, when we come across a veteran, we need to thank them,” she said. “Whether we see them on a street corner, or wherever they are. I just ask everyone to leave the judgment behind, because we don’t know their walk of life.”
Offering all the traditions of a veteran’s funeral is something that brings Sticklin Funeral Chapel great pride.
With a salute, “Taps” and presenting the veteran’s family with a flag, Nelson says that these services are “hard to describe. It’s amazing.”
“One of my first services was for a veteran, and I was so honored to be a part of it,” she said.
Nelson knows there are memories her stepfather will never share with her. She wonders about the stories that weigh on his heart.
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety are just a few of the afflictions many veterans continue to battle even years after coming home.
She hopes that a simple reminder, like a blue light bulb, may be enough to remind community members to thank veterans, not just on holidays, but always.
Nelson said that they have 250 light bulbs to distribute.
While supplies last, those interested can pick up a blue light bulb from any of the following locations: Brown Mortuary in Morton, Miller-Woodlawn Funeral Home in Bremerton, Mills & Mills Funeral Home in Tumwater or Sticklin Funeral Chapel in Centralia.