New memorial marks Veterans Day in Mill Creek

MILL CREEK

At the persistence of two Mill Creek veterans, Snohomish County residents have the chance to honor veterans today with the help of a new memorial.

The city hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the memorial and recognize veterans at noon today at Library Park, 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway.

The memorial consists of a flagpole in a raised concrete planting bed surrounded by six basalt columns. The names of veterans will be engraved into three sides of each column.

Public Works Director Tom Gathmann said there hasn’t been a swell of reaction from the community and he assumes it’s because not many people know about the memorial.

Gathmann said it was two local veterans, Chuck Wright and Fred Fillbrook, who approached the City Council with their wish for a memorial.

“They talked to any group who’d listen,” he said.

Wright, who served as a U.S. Army medic in Korea, said he was inspired after seeing American flags on grave sites to signify veterans at a cemetery in Maine with his wife.

“I said that’s the least we should do,” he said.

Wright said he plans to have his son Daryl’s name engraved on one of the columns. His son served in Iraq for 14 months.

Wright said he felt that he needed to give back to fellow veterans and was pleasantly surprised when Mill Creek officials agreed.

“It brings tears to my eyes that people are saying, ‘Yes, veterans are important,’” he said.

Fillbrook wrote a newspaper article in 2007 about Veterans Day becoming an almost forgotten holiday. Fillbrook served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.

Earlier this year, Fillbrook led efforts to organize a Memorial Day parade in Mill Creek after observing that few cities had plans to recognize veterans. More than 3,000 people showed up. The city offered financial support for the event.

“I’m glad the city was so great about it,” Fillbrook said.

Fillbrook quoted the adage, “If you can read, thank a teacher.” “If you can read in English, thank a veteran,” he said. “We owe a lot to our veterans especially those that didn’t come back.”

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