As many readers have probably noticed, the Tribute Wall previously located at Veterans Park adjacent to the former Main Street Association building was removed some time ago and has not been reinstalled. The removal was motivated by the tree removal work and installation of the new information kiosk.
At the time of removal, the American Legion Post 94 members were planning on using this opportunity to undertake some much needed repair and renovation work on the panels and attachments. Many of the name strips were needing replacement due to the weather effects and the panels needed to be repainted.
However, the costs associated with this renovation caused the Post members to re-evaluate this early planning.
The Tribute Wall was erected in the 2002-03 time frame to honor those local citizens who were and would be serving our nation on active military duty in the “War on Terror” which resulted from the attack on our nation on September 11, 2001. Over the years since, eligibility for the placement of names expanded to allow for the placement of names of active duty personnel from outside the local area, thus greatly expanding the size of the monument.
Post member Chuck Burgmeier said that Post 94 members have recognized that the “War on Terror” has now become our nation’s longest war with no end in sight and general citizen patriotism is greatly diminished from when the wall was originally erected. The question of what happens to the wall if the war ever ends has also been raised.
He said the above reasons/concerns have led the Post 94 members to decide on a major refocus of the Veterans Park to be that of a memorial to honor those Stevensville area citizens who have given their lives while on active military duty. Their decision has been proposed through Town Hall, Stevensville Civic Club and the Stevensville Garden Club.
The major inscription will be more inclusive than just honoring the names of those Killed-In-Action (KIA) and is based on information extracted primarily from the three books published by a former Stevensville citizen, Jack Bird, on WWI, WWII and Korea. However, the Vietnam and War-On-Terror names came from searching through local funeral home records. The list includes names from WWI and WWII as well as the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the War on Terror.
The proposed inscription reads “DEDICATED TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE STEVENSVILLE COMMUNITY WHO HAVE MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR THEIR COUNTRY WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY”
Burgmeier said that further research is required before any final decisions. They propose to visit the Saint Mary’s Mission staff and the Museum staff for possible leads and also want to use the Bitterroot Star.
Anyone with any information concerning names you believe should be inscribed on this monument can contact either Chuck Burgmeier at (253)380-7016 or Jerry Esmay at 777-5517.
Work has already begun on the project. According to Burgmeier, the concrete has been poured and a granite slab is being installed.