More honor walls erected in Veterans Square in Sunnyside | Lower valley
The message is clear: honor those who served in the armed forces.
And that message is hardly missed when driving on Ninth Street in Sunnyside, where the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza occupies the median of the street for an entire city block.
The towering memorial walls are engraved with the names of those who served, many of whom were killed in action and detained in war. Other walls present military history and information.
On Thursday, four new granite walls – additions highlighting the hardships many endured in combat – were installed, bringing the total number of sections to 19.
When the project started in 2006, the goal was to erect 42 walls.
“We’re almost halfway there,” said veteran Greg Schlieve, who helped lead the project.
Sunnyside City Manager Martin Casey described the square as “a remarkable tribute to our honored veterans.”
“It also reflects the dedication and patriotism of the many volunteers who helped build it,” he said. “Their work in coming up with the design, securing funds and supporting the continued installation of new flagstones and markers over many years demonstrates the best of Sunnyside’s community spirit. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to the memorial as we will reopen from COVID -19. “
Three men from a Seattle monument company used a crane to lift the tall walls of a large flatbed truck and guided them into position.
The walls were attached to large steel rods set in concrete.
“It meets the requirements of the Seattle earthquake, so for our requirements we are doing a little too much,” Schlieve said.
The new walls were engraved with information on post-traumatic stress disorder and the difficulties of service in the infantry.
They were positioned near a wall with the Purple Heart.
“Eventually that side will be close to serving on the front lines,” Schlieve said. “In most wars, it is the infantry that sustains about 85% of those killed in action.”
Named after the Mayor of Sunnyside and longtime American Legion Post Commander Jerry Taylor, the square is 400 feet long, consists of black and gray granite walls, and stretches from Edison Avenues to Franklin.
The walls provide information on history, the army, and the Medals of Valor. Some are inscribed with poems written by notable veterans.
A wall provides information on prisoners of war and those missing in action and lists the names of those in Sunnyside – 17 in all – who were held in enemy prison camps.
Thousands of names of veterans from the Yakima Valley and around the world are etched into the gray walls.
Some names are Dutch and Filipino soldiers. A wall displays the names of Filipino resistance soldiers who fought against the Japanese occupiers in World War II.
Schlieve stood in front of a wall providing information about the Medal of Honor and said most who received it didn’t think they had done anything special.
“Just like a man running towards a burning car and pulling people out of it,” Schlieve said. “He doesn’t know why he did it – he just does it.”
The service of Omar N. Bradley, a WWII hero and the last of the country’s five-star generals, is also featured on a wall. He died in 1981.
Three more walls are expected to arrive before Veterans Day.
The memorial is funded by donations from the public. Anyone who donates $ 300 or more can have the name of a veteran they would like to be honored on a wall.
Donations can be made by calling Schlieve at 509-781-0799 or by emailing him at [email protected]
Schlieve said the memorial aims to remind the community of the history and sacrifices veterans made for their country.
“You have to keep coming back and rereading it to kind of absorb it,” he said.