Mill Creek memorial a new place of honor for veterans
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Chuck Wright (left) and Romeo Delarosa read the names inscribed on the new monument to honor veterans in Mill Creek on Tuesday. The monument, which stands next to the Mill Creek library on the Bothell-Everett Highway, will be dedicated in a ceremony at 10 a.m. today.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
A new monument to honor veterans stands next to the Mill Creek library on the Bothell-Everett Highway.
As part of a road trip, he and his wife, Karen Brandon, visited Revolutionary War gravesites. They were impressed by how the towns along the route honored military veterans.
“I thought we could do something like that here in Mill Creek,” he said.
Today, Wright is scheduled to raise the U.S. flag at what two years ago was simply a dream: the Mill Creek Veterans Monument.
A dedication is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Library Park, 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway.
Scores of veterans' names are inscribed on six basalt columns surrounded by plants, flowers and trees at the site, where construction started last spring.
“It gives me pride to watch an idea become reality,” said Wright, 65, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran.
City Councilwoman Donna Michelson said she remembers Wright's impassioned pleas to memorialize veterans.
“His passion is undying,” said Michelson, who asked that the city take the lead in finding a monument location. “It moved me; it touched my heart.”
The city's volunteer-run Arts and Beautification Board took on the project, getting technical help from Public Works Director Tom Gathmann.
“After that, the train started rolling,” Wright said. “People jumped on and it took on a life of its own.”
Wright may have been the impetus behind the monument but its creation is the result of lots of donated labor and materials, Gathmann said.
“It was really nice to see so many businesses very willingly participate in making this a reality,” he said. Gathmann asked Mill Creek garden designer Jessi Bloom, owner of Northwest Bloom Ecological Landscape, if she'd be willing to lend her expertise to the project.
Bloom, a member of the city's design Review Board, eagerly volunteered her time.
“It's the first veterans memorial I've ever done,” she said. “It was a great experience. I learned a lot about working with so many different groups.”
She forwarded some initial sketches to the Arts and Beautification board.
“They knew what they wanted but they didn't know how to put it together,” she said.
Board members liked her first idea of six military emblems surrounded by trees and plants. Over time, the design changed slightly. The emblems were eventually engraved on a rock and the six basalt columns took center stage.
Bloom said she had more than a passing interest in the monument. Her husband's grandfather, Greeley Wells, raised the American flag on Iwo Jima after Allied forces seized control from the Japanese there during World War II. His name also is inscribed at the monument.
Funds for the $40,000 project came from the city's Public Art Fund, with another $20,000 to $30,000 worth of labor and materials donated, Gathmann said.
Veterans' names are engraved in the columns for a $83 fee. Applications to add a veteran's name to the site are available on the city's Web site, www.cityofmillcreek.com.
Wright said he's touched by the response to the monument.
“This wasn't just a Chuck Wright thing, it was a community collective,” Wright said. “My simple idea blossomed into this gorgeous piece.”
Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429; firstname.lastname@example.org.