Hundreds of veterans from across the Northwest will travel to Pasco on May 24 to help escort a replica version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to City View Cemetery.
Pasco is bringing the traveling wall to the Tri-Cities for the long Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute to all men and women who have served, especially those who gave their lives in service to their country.
An 80-percent scale version of the Washington, D.C., memorial will be erected in the Pasco cemetery for six days, with events planned every day with different military branches and veterans groups. The wall contains every single name etched on the original.
“We always want to honor our servicemen. We’ve got a special spot in our heart for them,” said Dan Dotta, Pasco’s facilities service manager and interim administrative community services director.
Staff try to do something at the cemetery every year for Memorial weekend, but they’ve been challenged by the City Council to get the community more involved.
They learned about American Veterans Traveling Tribute, and started planning the wall visit last year. The veteran-owned business, based in Texas, is a project committed to travel the United States honoring veterans and active military personnel.
Dotta said the city has a number of employees who are veterans, along with his own son.
“We just want to make sure that we did this for them,” he told the Herald. “We thought this would be the year to make it special for the community. I hope that they come out . and enjoy it.”
Since word started getting out over the last few months, Dotta said a lot of people already have reached out to staff to thank them for thinking of veterans.
City employees have been working on a new sidewalk at the cemetery to help with access to the wall, which is 360 feet long and 8 feet tall at the highest point. The memorial will be placed on a road, and not the grass, so it is accessible to all people, and golf carts will be available to transfer people from the parking area.
Officials also have reached out to area schools, so students can visit the memorial during the school day and learn about the wall from a service member.
Dotta added that they will have grief counselors at the memorial, tents set up for people to sit out of the glaring sun and security for those who visit late at night.
The memorial, which costs nothing to visit, will be open 24 hours a day.
It is costing the city $10,000 to get the wall, though Dotta said they have been getting sponsorships.
The traveling wall will arrive in town on a truck and trailer.
People who want to participate in the escort ride can meet at 2 p.m. May 24 in the large parking lot for the old Kmart store, across from the Pasco Post Office on Court Street.
Dotta said they’ve heard from people as far as Montana and are expecting several hundred motorcycles. People also can ride in cars.
The parade will leave the parking lot at 3 p.m., travel south on Road 36, then east on Sylvester Street to 10th Avenue, south to Lewis Street, east to Oregon Avenue and finally arrive at the cemetery at 1300 N. Oregon Avenue.
Organizers initially tried to start the escort at the Regional Veterans Memorial at Columbia Park, but were faced with construction and holiday weekend issues in trying to cross the cable bridge into Pasco.
Welcome speeches will be given in the cemetery after the parade, though the wall won’t be set up until the morning of May 25 in time for a 1 p.m. opening ceremony.
The schedule of events features Gold Star mothers and a time of remembrance on May 26, a Yakama Warriors ceremony May 27, a military church service May 28 and a Wounded Warrior speaking as part of the Memorial Day ceremony.
Online donations are payable at pascoparksandrec.com. For more information, call 509-545-3460.
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