Memorial Day started off as a day of remembrance, a day where we Americans go to cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our war dead. It is a day where we remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
On Memorial Day in 1969, Commissioner of Public Lands Bert Cole dedicated a monument at the Forks Cemetery. The marker was unveiled to show all the names of the servicemen from the Forks area that died during their military service. The ceremony included a march from the VFW Hall to the cemetery, where the VFW color guard conducted the flag raising. The American Legion Junior Auxiliary placed white crosses and poppies on the graves of veterans. The Poppy Girl and Boy that day were Heidi Lohneis and Billy James.
Sons, brothers, neighbors and in several cases fathers gone too soon.
George C. Welch, Army, World War II, killed in action, July 31, 1943, a resident of the Bogachiel area he was the first World War II casualty from the West End.
Frank Daman Jr., Navy, World War II, missing in action and presumed dead, Mediterranean, May 9, 1944, he was awarded the Purple Heart.
Arthur R. Wittenborn, Army, World War II, killed in action, Europe, Oct. 9, 1944, he landed at D-Day and held the Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medal.
Sebastian George Vogel, Navy, World War II, killed in action, Philippines, Nov. 27, 1944, he left behind a wife and young son.
Walter A. Fletcher, Army, World War II, killed in action, Netherlands, April 15, 1945, it is believed he was killed just minutes before the last shot of the war was fired. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Heart posthumously.
Lorrel L. Cassell, Army, World War II, survived combat only to be killed in a plane crash returning home from his tour of duty, Dec. 8, 1945.
Earl K. Brandeberry, Army, World War II, survived combat, killed after reenlistment, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Robert Guy Price, Marine, Korean War, killed in action Nov. 30, 1950, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.
Arthur J. Munson Jr., killed in a vehicle accident, May 1, 1952.
Vernon E. DePew, Marine, South Vietnam, killed in action May 20, 1967, the first Vietnam War casualty from the West End.
Norman E. Lodholm, Army, South Vietnam, killed in action June 13, 1968.
Douglas G. Foster, Marine, South Vietnam, killed in action on his second tour, Sept. 15, 1968, he was recommended for three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and the Navy Cross.
Donald R. Kraft, Army, South Vietnam, killed in action May 13, 1969, just 12 days into his tour of duty.
Not on the monument:
Jason Hanson, Marine, Iraq, killed while conducting combat operations July 29, 2006.
In addition to the names, the words "In memory of those who gave their lives in the service of their country" are engraved on the stone.
At some point the monument, dedicated that day in May 1969 at the Forks Cemetery, was moved to Forks City Hall.
On Monday, May 26, at 11 a.m. there will be a Memorial Day ceremony at the monument at City Hall. The Forks Elks Cub Scout Pack 4467 and others, as part of the ceremony, will lower the flag. Following the conclusion of that ceremony, a few participants will then travel to the Transit Center and lower the flag there. The public is invited to attend and participate.