Vietnam vet shepherds a new Edmonds memorial to military

EDMONDS — Ron Clyborne dreams big.

Seeing that the city had no veterans memorials, Clyborne, a Vietnam vet, decided to do something about it. “Three years ago, we had nothing other than an idea,” he said.

That idea has since evolved into a plan for a $450,000 Veterans Plaza in Edmonds. The 5,500-square-foot memorial park will be sited on the grounds of the city’s Public Safety building at 121 5th Ave.

The goal is to develop an area so that veterans, their families, and the rest of the community have a place to reflect “and be appreciative,” Clyborne said.

Twelve people or groups submitted proposals for the design of the memorial park. “We went through a pretty rigorous process with citizens and city staff looking at designs we thought would be most fitting for the space and something that would really honor the veterans past, current and future,” said former City Council member Strom Peterson, who was elected in November to the Legislature.

The Seattle landscape architectural firm Site Workshop was selected to design the plaza. The firm also has assisted with the development of a new children’s play area at City Park.

“We looked at many high-profile memorials around the country and the world for inspiration,” said Site Workshop project manager Brian Bishop.

The largest single element in the plaza will be a 5,000-square-foot memorial garden. Plans for a memorial wall are being developed, but it will include elements honoring the entire U.S.military as well as separate recognition for its five branches.

The city approved spending $10,000 to jump start the first third of the park’s design, said Carrie Hite, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services director.

The local VFW post is coordinating fund raising for the project. Clyborne said he hopes to be able to raise all the money in the next year. “It’s going to be an interesting challenge,” he said.

Clyborne said it was his commander at VFW Post 8870 who first pointed out that there was no veterans memorial in Edmonds. “I said, ‘Wow. You’re right. Most communities about our size have something — a street, park, plaza or building,’” he said.

Cities throughout the state have veterans memorials, including Arlington, Everett and Lynnwood, which have dedicated parks to honor veterans.

On the Capitol grounds in Olympia, there are memorials for veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, for POWs/MIAs and for Medal of Honor winners.

Clyborne said his family has strong ties to military service. He served in the Marines from 1962 to 1965. His father was a bombardier in WWII. And he has two nephews have done tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clyborne’s prior work in community activities include a two-year stint as the president of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and helping organize the city’s July 4th programs.

He hopes initial design work on the plaza can be completed in about four months and the first phase of construction could begin this summer.

Veterans Plaza will honor all the men and women who have served in the military, he said. “Those of us here have a responsibility,” he said. “That’s how I felt when I was asked to do this. I’ve accomplished a number of things in my life. This is something really, truly special.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

To contribute

Donations to build Veterans Plaza in Edmonds may be made to: VFW post 8870, PO Box 701 Edmonds, Washington 9802. Indicate that the donations are for Edmonds Veterans Plaza.

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