By Kay Helbling
Our United States military are remembered worldwide. There are over one thousand different memorial sites in foreign countries honoring America’s overseas wartime service. In the U.S., we have 44 National Memorials. In our state of Oregon there are over 200 memorial sites that show our respect and honor the memory and service of all our veterans. I was astounded by the number…two hundred! I couldn’t remember the last time I recalled having seen a memorial to our soldiers, but they are there.
Over the years, communities across Oregon have stepped forward to remember their war veterans. As you travel across the state, if you look, you will find them. You will find them in gardens, schools, parks, and cemeteries. You’ll even find them on a football field and at a shopping mall. They are remembered on a flag pole in Astoria, a bridge in Bend, a bell in Eagle Point, an amphitheater in Klamath Falls, swimming pools in La Grande, a cannon in St. Helen’s, and a submarine in Portland. There are statues, brass plaques and engraved stones at locations too numerous to mention. You can even sit on a memorial bench in The Dalles.
Honors have been erected to all the wars: Revolutionary, Spanish American, WWI & WWII, Korean, Vietnam and already monuments to honor those in the Afghan and Iraq Wars. They have become such a common site among our landscape we may walk by them without even a nod, a whisper or a prayer, but they are there.
There are over a dozen walls engraved with names and acknowledgements of their brave service and lives lost. This week four more names were added to our Afgan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial Wall in Salem: Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston, Lance Cpl. Robert L. Johnson, Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M. Tillery, and Pfc. Richard A. DeWater (OregonReport, May 25, “Memorial Day:…”). We salute their service. We mourn with their families.
But these memories should be only a beginning. Memorial Day should give us a greater appreciation for the opportunities we have to thank the soldiers that are still with us. Every day we can pass by those soldiers with more than a whisper, a nod or a prayer. We have the opportunity and great privilege to thank them and let them know how very proud we are for their service to our country.
If you’d like a complete list of all the memorials you can visit across Oregon, listed alphabetically by city, I’d recommend going to http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=153625
If you’d like to get to know those 114 Oregon men and women who have died serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and the War in Iraq, I’d encourage you scroll through their names and bios on Oregon’s website dedicated to Oregon’s Most Honorable at http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/soldier/soldier_oregons_most_honorable.shtml
Kay finds it an honor and privilege to be the daughter of a WWII veteran, the daughter-in-law and niece of Korean War veterans, the sister of a Vietnam War veteran, and the wife of a former Air Force Reserve Officer.