A tidier rest in peace for heroes

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch The final resting place for veterans of five wars is looking better for next Monday's Memorial Day. Volunteers who convened twice at the Washington Soldiers Home Cemetery near Orting in the past month scrubbed headstones and gave the grounds a general cleanup worthy of the fallen heroes who will be honored in a service on the holiday that recognizes all U.S. military members who sacrificed their lives in service to their country. One of the people who planned to be part of a work party last Saturday is Alfie Alvarado, director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, which manages the Soldiers Home. "We are so thankful for the outpouring of community support," Alvarado said. "With Memorial Day fast approaching, we can't say thank you enough to the many volunteers who (spent) countless hours helping to prepare the cemetery and the grounds of the home." State Rep. Graham Hunt, who helped organize the cleanups that started in April, said the "immediate goal" was to have the cemetery "in better condition in time for the Memorial Day service." Longer-term, the work "is one of the many steps we'll be taking to fully restore the cemetery back to its original condition," he said. Hunt, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2001-05 and whose constituency in the Legislature includes the south Pierce County area, expressed gratitude for the volunteers (80 in April alone) who helped. Buried at the cemetery are veterans from all over the United States, including ones who served in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Some were Medal of Honor recipients. The cemetery's connection with the Civil War has added significance on Memorial Day because it's generally considered that the observance was borne out of that war. Decoration Day, as it originally was known, was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.GÇ¥


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment