STANWOOD — It was a day to honor veterans.
But dozens of veterans at Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center shared the honor.
At a Monday ceremony, the veterans stood to thank — and salute — those in the crowd who didn’t serve in the armed forces.
About 200 people packed the room with seating for 150 to attend the dedication of the Community Veterans Memorial at 27130 102nd Ave. NW, between the meeting hall and Stanwood Area Historical Society.
What was once a lawn is now a circular brick plaza with benches, a flagpole and five granite pedestals, each representing a major armed conflict: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was dreamed up by volunteers, funded through donations and in-kind contributions, constructed by free labor and researched by local historians.
“It’s a real community project,” said retired Navy Capt. Jim Joyce, one of the dreamers who made it a reality. “Just like the saying goes, ‘The village built it.’”
Engraved on the granite kiosks are 50 names of the men — and a woman — who lived in the boundaries of the Stanwood-Camano School District and died serving their country.
At the ceremony, the names of the fallen were read aloud, each followed by the ringing of a bell.
Eleven died in World War I. Twenty-six in World War II. Three in Korea. Six in Vietnam. Three in Iraq. One in Afghanistan.
The afternoon event concluded with a 21-gun salute and then silence for “Taps.”
The memorial was about five years in the making. Fund raising included selling $150 bricks, which will be installed on the front wall (and are still available). Contractors volunteered time and materials. Stanwood High School horticultural students did the landscaping. The list goes on.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” said World War II Navy veteran Carl Blake, 93, of Camano Island. “It was a thing we had to do and we did it. It was a great experience. I served out of troop transport.”
The white-bearded man wore a crisp red pinstriped shirt and a blue USS Europa cap. The wooden cane he clutched was as much for show as use.
“It was made by an old shipmate who is now dead,” he said. “So it’s a living memory of four years together in the Navy.”
Joyce said the impetus for the memorial started during a breakfast with his buddy.
“I’d been on a trip, my wife and I, and we’d driven through small towns with memorials,” he said. “Bill (Keller) and I were just sitting there talking one morning about why don’t they have one in Stanwood? And, not knowing how big the project would be, we started down the road to do it. People started stepping to the plate to help us out.”
The Vietnam pedestal has the name of one of their classmates, George Michael Broz, a second lieutenant in the Marines.
Helicopters etched in the surface evoked recollections for Stanwood resident Steven Lively, 67, who was a crew chief in Vietnam.
“I sat on the left side and the gunner sat on the right,” Lively said. “That’s how troops moved around.”
Navy Chief Petty Officer Sean Connolly, 41, placed a small anchor pin at the base of the flagpole.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of brothers and sisters.”
He was impressed with the turnout. “The fact that people are taking the time to be here is amazing. Being active duty, it’s easy to understand why I am here.”
The event drew people of all ages.
“Our town has a lot of history and this definitely presents it in a nice way,” said Hailey Logan, 16, of Stanwood.