Members of American Legion Grant Hodge Post 217, the Lewis County Historical Society and America’s Team Museum hosted a Memorial Day ceremony Monday afternoon at George Washington Park in downtown Centralia.
Lewis County Historical Society President Peter Lahmann delivered a speech in which he talked about the importance of the sacrifices service members have made to preserve our freedom.
Lahmann also touched on preservation and restoration work just recently completed to the two war memorials at the park — The Sentinel statue and the Freedom Walk War Memorial.
The Sentinel, which will mark a century of keeping watch in the park in 2024, had damaged grout work in the statue’s foundation, allowing water to seep in, freeze and damage the stone foundation.
Erected after the Centralia Massacre of 1919, The Sentinel commemorates World War I veterans and American Legion members who were killed during an Armistice Day parade that turned into a shootout.
Shooting began when American Legion members and local Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union members confronted each other after tensions between the two groups had been growing for several years. One IWW member — who was later lynched — was also a World War I veteran.
The Freedom Walk War Memorial features the names of Lewis County veterans who died during their time in service going all the way back to World War I and also received new grout sealing to protect it from water damage. This year also marks the Freedom Walk’s 30th anniversary.
Lahmann said there are a total of 355 names on the Freedom Walk and he wanted them to always be remembered, especially on Memorial Day.
Restoration work was performed by volunteers from the Bricklayers Local 1 Washington and Alaska and the Laborers Local 252 unions while the City of Centralia paid for the materials needed to complete the restoration.
Several World War II era Jeeps were on display along with booths manned by America’s Team Museum volunteers showcasing military equipment and weapons from the past.
George Washington Park is located at 110 S. Silver St. while America’s Team Museum is located at 622 N. Tower Ave., both in downtown Centralia.