The Liberty Lake Rotary Club has canceled its annual Memorial Day breakfast fundraiser for the second year in a row, but worked to find an alternative way to raise money for Inland Northwest Honor Flight.
Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization that takes military veterans to Washington, D.C., to view the memorial for the war the veteran fought in. It started out serving primarily World War II veterans, but now also takes veterans of the Korean War and the Vietnam War on trips.
Rotary Club secretary Bob Wiese said the club decided to cancel the breakfast for the second year in a row because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “With all the restrictions, it just didn’t make sense,” he said.
But the club still wanted to raise money for Inland Northwest Honor Flight, which usually takes veterans from Eastern Washington and North Idaho to Washington, D.C., twice a year. One of the suggestions that came up was doing a luminary tribute, which would allow people to purchase luminaries in honor of a fallen soldier.
“We all just brainstormed ideas,” he said. “It’s more of a groupthink solution.”
Wiese said he saw something similar done in Saipan, Mariana Islands. The club plans to arrange 500 luminaries in a rectangle in front of the flag pole inside Pavillion Park. The luminaries are white during the day and light up in red, white and blue colors at night.
“During the day, they’ll look like a veteran’s cemetery,” he said. “We’re hoping it will have a nice impact on the community to have a visual display like that.”
The suggested donation for each luminary is $10. Donations can be made online at https://www.strideevents.com/memorial-day-tribute/event-information. The luminaries will be in place in Pavillion Park on May 30 and 31 and can be purchased as late as May 29.
The Rotary Club is also selling Memorial Day T-shirts for $20 and sweatshirts for $30. They can be ordered by clicking “Event store” at the website listed above. Orders must be made by Sunday in order to receive the shirts by Memorial Day. Shirts that are ordered later than that can be picked up at the Washington Trust Bank in Liberty Lake after Memorial Day.
“They’re a really great design,” he said. “We may be able to do a second run on them.”
Wiese said there are also plans to hold a short ceremony in Pavillion Park at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day featuring Liberty Lake Mayor Cris Kaminskas. The Honor Guard from Fairchild Air Force Base will be there, and a student from Central Valley High School will read a missing comrade poem. In order to limit crowd size, the event will be livestreamed on the Rotary Club’s Facebook page.
“It’s all about remembering the fallen,” he said.
Wiese said his group thought it was important to do a fundraiser for Honor Flight even though the organization had to cancel both its planned flights last year because of the pandemic.
“Once it starts back up, there’s going to be a backlog of people,” he said. “They’ll need funding to get caught up. We don’t want those programs to suffer.”
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