MARYSVILLE – The assembly at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Thursday was as emotional as it was soothing for the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of local soldiers who have died in wars.
Students wanted the families to know that their loved ones haven’t been forgotten.
Twenty names appear on a new memorial near the campus entrance. Thursday was a time for the students to reflect and reach out.
Robin Hammond’s brother, Jack, was a Marine who died in Vietnam. He was struck by the students’ sincerity.
“They were quiet, attentive and respectful,” he said. “I was impressed.”
Students created display boards with short biographies and photos of the war dead. A candle and white carnation accompanied each one. Another 180 boards lined the gym, telling the stories of individual veterans.
The colorful assembly – with bagpipes, a trumpet solo of taps and many tributes – capped more than a year of work.
The school’s Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, program raised more than $20,000 for the monument while working with the Marysville Rotary Club.
Students spent countless hours on research, planning and fund-raising. Along the way, they came face to face with veterans and made cold calls from the phone book looking for relatives of the soldiers who died.
Sandy Bodendick, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, found the engraved names of both her brother and her uncle on the memorial and read their tributes.
Her uncle, Elson James, died in Germany during World War I; her brother, Donald Duane Campbell, died in Vietnam in 1971.
“I’m so glad I came,” she said. “It just makes me feel good to see all this.”
Senior Kristen Hendrix accompanied Betty Pearson to the podium. Pearson’s son, Robert, was a 24-year-old Air Force pilot who was involved in a midair collision over North Vietnam.
“I never realized the effects of war until doing this project. It goes way beyond the soldiers,” Hendrix said. “For instance, Robert Pearson had a mother and father, a brother, a wife and a daughter whom he had never had the chance to meet.”
Pearson said she was moved by the event.
“I couldn’t have said anything,” Pearson said. “It was beautiful. The kids did a super job, but it is always hard. It brings back an awful lot of memories.”
DECA didn’t list its own contributions at the memorial.
“This is something you should do from your heart, not from your own ambitions,” said Chelsea Ring, a DECA chapter president.
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.