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Veterans memorial takes a tour of Whidbey
About a year and a half ago, lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans non-profit organization Dick Johnson took over the responsibility of maintaining the veteran memorial in Coupeville.
Since then, he’s cleaned and restored it to its original glory.
“I was on the committee that built the memorial,” Johnson said.
The memorial consists of memorial bricks for soldiers from the Civil War forward, paving the plaza across from the main entrance to the Island County Law and Justice Center. There are also five bas-relief sculptured bronze plaques honoring past, present and future generations of armed forces, and flags for all the services of the military, including the Merchant Marine.
“The memorial is about honoring all veterans from all wars, conflicts and service to our country,” Johnson said. “We have a brick honoring a Civil War veteran; we just received an order honoring a veteran from the Spanish American War. My dad has a brick, he’s WWI.”
Johnson said he, his son and his grandson have bricks there as well.
Johnson said that the memorial was “envisioned, funded and built” by Bill and Mary Ethridge.
“Bill was a POW in Germany … and spent, I believe, about 7 months in various German concentration camps,” Johnson said.
Since Johnson took over the responsibility of maintaining the memorial, he’s created a display “with some input by others” for the local libraries. These displays are composed of three separate sections. The first is a history of the DAV, the second is about the Coupeville veteran memorial and the history behind it and the third is about the PBY Museum in Oak Harbor.
It will be displayed in the Freeland Library for the month of August, before moving to the Langley Library for the month of September.
Because the display case in the Langley Library is smaller, Johnson said the display will have to be condensed some.
“We wanted to have the stories on display throughout the island, which has been a goal of mine,” he said.
Also with the display are brochures to purchase memorial bricks, which cost $100 each. Johnson said they use that money to purchase the brick, and the remaining money from the purchase goes towards maintaining the memorial.
“It looks, right now, in my view, as good as the day the panels were installed,” he said.