May 19, 2011 in Washington Voices

Valley church building memorial to veterans

By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Keith Arp levels a fence post at the newly constructed Veterans Memorial in front of Valley Fourth Memorial Church. When completed, the memorial will be available 24/7 for community members to pray and meditate for members of the military.
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Dedication of the veteran’s memorial will take place after the 10:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, May 29, at Valley Fourth Memorial Church, 2303 S. Bowdish Road.

The congregation of Valley Fourth Memorial Church has been a supporter of U.S. military members for the last several years. Volunteers send care packages, cards and letters to troops stationed overseas. They also have a prayer calendar with a lengthy list of names to pray for every day.

Now the church is taking things a step further by building a veterans memorial in front of the church. It will be dedicated during a ceremony after the 10:30 a.m. worship service on May 29. “The Patriot Guard riders will be there,” said church member Craig Holmes. “Hopefully we’ll have several veterans there.”

Last week church member Steve Taylor was overseeing construction of a stone memorial. A large bronze plaque will be in the center and smaller plaques with the names of military members who have been killed in action since 9/11 will be displayed. A flagpole now stands next to the large monument.

“It’s not about us,” he said. “It’s about them. This is for the veterans and their families. We just wanted a tangible, visible space where we honor their service.”

Holmes, who like Taylor had a child in the service, has been part of the church’s Helping Our Military Eternally (HOME) ministry, sending packages overseas. Some people on the list had never set foot in Spokane Valley, but their names were added because a relative or friend in the church had requested it.

Last year a package came back. “When we inquired of the family, they said that the reason was that the soldier was killed in action,” Holmes said. The man had lived in Texas, but some of his family members were members of Valley Fourth Memorial. “We’ve been grieving with them,” he said.

Someone suggested the church install a flagpole in memory of the service members who served and died. “Then one thing led to another and we thought we’d do a memorial,” he said.

Church members estimated the project would cost between $12,000 and $15,000. As people heard about the plans, donations came pouring in. The church now has about $19,000 without doing any fundraising.

A local veterans group came to the church with some Gold Star mothers who had lost children in combat. Though the original plan was to include only those with ties to Spokane Valley on the memorial, the mothers asked the church to include people from all of Eastern Washington.

It will give families a place to go 24 hours a day to grieve a loved one. “They have nowhere except the graveyard to go,” said Holmes. “It kind of built up larger than we had dreamed or hoped.”

The church also has plans to have Books of Honor inside the church where each military person, alive or dead, can have a page dedicated to honoring their service. The pages will include information and photographs on the person and will be constantly on display. “We want to make sure that every soldier is honored,” Holmes said.

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