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Veterans Mark Pow/Mia Day Groups Want Flame Of Hope Relocated To Riverfront Park

Spokane area veterans showed Friday they still carry a torch for missing servicemen, and want city parks officials to do the same.

Veterans groups mounted a dawn-to-dusk honor guard at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Riverfront Park to mark POW/MIA Day. As they have in past years, they held a memorial service in the afternoon with prayers and a 21-gun salute for those missing in action.

But there was another theme to this year’s memorial. Veterans want the Spokane Park Board to agree to place the Flame of Hope on the knoll near the statue of the sitting GI.

The Flame of Hope, a pole-shaped monument, stood for nearly 20 years outside the old Coliseum as a memorial to all prisoners of war and those missing in action.

When the new Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena was being planned, Arena officials said they were told Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1435 in the Valley wanted the monument.

VFW leaders later said that wasn’t the case, but by then, the monument didn’t fit in with the Arena’s plans.

If the Flame of Hope can’t be near the Arena, the next best place would be the hill in the park, veterans said Friday. The flame, which would actually be a special light bulb, would illuminate the nearby statue. It’s not a hang-up so much as a need to follow the rules, said Hal McGlathery, Riverfront Park Manager.

Veterans groups will have to present the idea - complete with an artist’s rendering and map - to the Riverfront Park Committee, which oversees any new addition to the downtown park, said Hal McGlathery, the park manager.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo