By Katie Murdoch Enterprise editor
MILL CREEK — U.S. Army veteran Chuck Wright of Mill Creek encourages veterans to step forward, stand tall and be recognized for their service, particularly on Memorial Day.
Wright, who served as a medic in Korea during the Vietnam War, has seen people mock veterans and throw tomatoes at them.
“Some people from my era are embarrassed to say they served,” he said.
But Wright said it’s acceptable for veterans from any war to feel pride for doing their duty.
“We wouldn’t have our freedom if these men and women didn’t dare to serve,” he said.
Wright isn’t the only one who thinks so.
Mill Creek officials will unveil a veterans monument to the community as an expression of gratitude to current and former service men and women and to inspire future generations.
The Mill Creek Veterans Monument dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 31 at Library Park, 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway.
The monument consists of a flagpole in a raised concrete planting bed surrounded by six basalt columns, symbolizing each military branch. The names of veterans and those currently serving will be engraved into three sides of each column along with their rank and their military branch. In mid-May there were 140 names engraved, including the name of a Civil War soldier. There is room for 200 more names, as of press time.
City Manager Tim Burns said the monument recognizes the sacrifices veterans have made.
Burns, who served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years in the civil engineer corps, said the community has another opportunity to honor service men and women retired and currently serving, regardless of where they’re from.
“It’s impressive,” he said.
Jessi Bloom, lead designer and owner of NW Bloom, said she wanted to show city staff and the city’s Arts &Beautification Board something elegant and prestigious.
“It’s the most inspiring one for me and the most important one I’ll ever do,” Bloom said.
Bloom, who designed the monument for free, chose statuesque columns over pavers to keep the veterans’ names off of the ground. This way people couldn’t walk across the names or have the names buried under conifer needles and moss.
She also called upon local businesses to see who would help with costs or donate materials. Clearview Nursery &Stone donated the basalt columns and B. Bissell Construction donated the large aspen trees. John Dunton, owner of On the Rocks Studio, selected and prepared the basalt columns, and Bernie Clites did all the engraving in the basalt.
“It’s amazing to be able to honor veterans like that,” Bloom said.
Public Works Director Tom Gathmann said the monument honors service men and women whether they are retired or not.
“The city cares about veterans and those actively serving,” Gathmann said. “We care and we want to honor those serving.”
Gathmann credits Wright and Fred Fillbrook, who served as a paratrooper for the U.S. Army, for prodding the City Council to recognize veterans.
“The thing is, politicians and leaders have talked about veterans but nothing had really been done here,” Wright said.
Fillbrook said the monument is a permanent way of thanking veterans and acknowledging their service. Last year he spearheaded efforts for a Memorial Day parade in Mill Creek. Limited funds prevented organizers from bringing the parade back.
“Once you become a soldier, you really change,” he said.
Wright said he felt goose bumps when he recently visited the site of the Mill Creek Veterans Monument.
“This is something the city will be proud of,” he said.
For more information about adding a name to the monument, visit www.cityofmillcreek.com.