Purpose and Remembrance: Stanwood’s Community Veterans Memorial
The idea for a Veterans Memorial in Stanwood started over cups of coffee around 2014. Two friends, Jim Joyce and Bill Keller, remembered the loss of another high school friend, George Broz who died in the sands of a Vietnamese beach in December of 1967. Both were observers of similar memorials in towns around the country and thought the absence of such a monument in Stanwood should be corrected. It would take another four years to make their brainstorming a reality and only through the incredible generosity of the community where it stands.
The initial concept was discussed with architect Dan Nelson and his Designs Northwest. The design went through various stages accepting and rejecting changes learned from other memorials such as one in Shoreline. A site for the Memorial was the next task. A vacant lot next to the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center seemed a good location and plans were submitted to the board of the Stanwood Area Historical Society which generated negotiations and plenty of additional ideas on the Memorial’s design. The SAHS agreed to the use of their property in 2016 and the final design was submitted to the City of Stanwood.
Seed money for the project was secured from the Donna J. & Charles Cole Charitable Foundation, selling benches with engraved plaques and later events such as Giving Tuesday and finally selling engraved bricks bearing names of veterans for the Veterans’ Wall. But true philanthropy is often more than money and this Memorial is also a testament to the incredible support of area contractors who gave of their time and talents without compensation. People such as Harry Taylor of Taylor Excavators, Ken Kristoferson of Stanwood Redi-Mix and Bruce Aalmo of Island Masonry.
Ground was broken in early August 2017. Concrete was poured, the flag pole was erected, lighting installed thanks to Mad’s Electric and brick was laid. Although incomplete, the first ceremony conducted at the Floyd was November 11, 2017, in honor of Veterans Day.
The next spring students from the Stanwood High School Horticulture class designed and helped install landscaping for the Memorial. The Stanwood Community Veterans Memorial was officially dedicated on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018. An overflowing crowd of veterans, community leaders and grateful citizens attended. Speakers such as Vietnam vet Mike Ballard brought home the pride and the challenges faced by those who go in harm’s way for the rest of us—during and after their service. It was a moving tribute. Youth is often the first casualty suffered by our service men and women.
After starts and stops and many trips to Tacoma for brick engraving, the Veterans’ Wall was completed in July 2018 by members of the Aalmo family. And it is a community family that made this Memorial happen. No matter the discussion of which wars, and where, gratitude is something we all share for those men and women who sacrifice so much. Stanwood’s Community Veterans Memorial is one way that we say, thank you.