WHITE BIRD – Commemorating Memorial Day, the community of White Bird drew nearly 200 people on Monday to formally dedicate its veterans’ park.
“This is a place for the public to use, as well as veterans,” spoke Bobbie Black, chaplain for American Legion White Bird Post 152, “to come and reflect on what a veteran is, what people have given, what people expect from a veteran, and for Post 152 to keep the memory alive of veterans – alive and deceased – in front of the public.”
The May 27 noon ceremony marked the completion of phase two of the White Bird Veterans Memorial, which includes two ceremonial fire pits, two granite benches, and two granite slabs inscribed with the names of White Bird veterans dating back to the Indian wars. Work started on the memorial in 2017.
According to post commander Walt Lindsey, about $17,500 has been raised, and about that same amount donated, toward the memorial. Completion of phase three – sprinkler system, bathroom, pay-per-use shower, installation of a sidewalk and curb and fencing by the creek – is set for Memorial Day 2020, tentative on fund-raising.
One of the benches pays tribute to resident Matt Wheeler, a U.S. Army veteran, Lindsey explained, who was helped by community members to receive help for issues with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and who died in 2017. Present were members of Wheeler’s family who came in from Maine to be present at the commemoration.
“Wondering what other veterans in this community needed this help, this support,” he said, “we decided to resurrect this American Legion post,” which has since become the fastest growing in the nation.
Among those attending Monday was Marv Hagedorn, chief administrator for the Idaho Division of Veterans Services.
“I came here to visit and show my appreciation for all the hard work Post 152 has done,” Hagedorn said. He had his director oversee the Memorial Day commemoration at the Boise veterans’ cemetery so he could attend at White Bird. “I’m a rural Idaho guy, so this is much more meaningful for me.”
The hour-and-45-minute commemoration included a 21-gun salute, presentations of certificates of appreciation and meritorious service for those who helped with the memorial, and gifts of Quilts of Valor to 11 local veterans.