Local historian and author Larry O'Donnell told a crowd gathered near Jackson's gravesite that the annual ceremony was kind of like a baseball doubleheader.
"Today there will be the traditional and always moving Memorial Day tributes, and, in addition, we're going to pay homage to an individual who believed in America and practiced Americanism with every particle of his heart and soul, and of course I'm talking about Everett's own Henry M. 'Scoop' Jackson," O'Donnell said.
The senator was born in Everett on May 31, 1912, and died here on Sept. 1, 1983. Thursday will mark what would have been Jackson's 100th birthday, and several events are planned this week to commemorate his life.
O'Donnell introduced Tom Gaskin, a history instructor at Everett Community College, who spoke about Jackson.
The Democrat served 12 years in the House of Representatives and 31 years in the U.S. Senate, Gaskin said. He added that he wasn't going to talk about Jackson's accomplishments as a member of Congress, his efforts to keep American defenses strong, his environmental legislation, or his two attempts to gain the Democratic presidential nomination. Instead, Gaskin said, he wanted to reflect on Jackson's two years as a Snohomish County prosecuting attorney.
"It was during these two years when he got his start in politics and made a name for himself, and many of the personal characteristics of his impressive congressional career can be found in these early years," Gaskin said.
Jackson graduated from the University of Washington in 1935. Three years later, at the age of 26, he was elected Snohomish County prosecuting attorney. During his two years as prosecuting attorney, Jackson led police officers in raids against establishments that illegally served alcohol and worked to rid the county of pinball machines that gave cash payoffs. He was also involved in several important trials, Gaskin said.
"He was an extremely hard worker who was innovative, pragmatic, honest and tough when he needed to be," Gaskin added. "When the opportunity arose for his run for Congress in 1940, he jumped at it. It was the start of a memorable 43-year career; a career shaped and encouraged by two years as Snohomish County prosecutor."
Remembering those who fought and died for the country was also part of the program organized by the Snohomish County Central Memorial Committee. Cmdr. Doug Stephens, officer in charge of Naval Station Everett's David R. Ray Health Center, spoke about Memorial Day.
"Words can never and will never match the power of the sacrifices made by so many," he said. "We honor them, we praise them and we will always remember them."
The program included music and presentations by the Mariner High School Navy Junior ROTC, Everett High School Navy Junior ROTC and Snohomish High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC. After the ceremony, the Historic Flight Foundation, in honor of deceased members of the Armed Forces, flew over the cemetery in a B-25D Mitchell aircraft named "Grumpy."
Everett resident Larry Foster, a member of the Fleet Reserve Association Branch 170, looked at Jackson's gravesite before leaving the cemetery. Foster, 76, said he planned to drive to Grand Avenue Park to see a bronze bust of the senator that was dedicated May 20 across the street from the Jackson family home.
"We come every year, and this (program) was the best one I've been to," he said.
Public events honoring Scoop
Free public events are planned this week to commemorate Henry M. Jackson's life in Everett and his legacy in Congress.
Wednesday, 7 p.m.: University of Washington President Michael Young is scheduled to deliver the Henry M. Jackson/William Van Ness Jr. Lecture on Leadership in Kane Hall 220 on the university campus. Call 206-682-8565 to reserve a seat.
Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Rededication of the Henry M. Jackson Conference Center at Everett Community College, 2000 Tower St. Event includes unveiling of a sculpture of Jackson to be displayed in the center. Free parking in Lot B on the main campus.
4 p.m.: Jackson Centennial Celebration in Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Speakers include Jackson's daughter, Anna Marie Laurence; his son, Peter Jackson; and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.
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