A short time before he died last year, my brother Tom Deebach, a former Eagle Scout with Edmonds Boy Scout Troop 339, asked me if I knew what had happened to the flagpole and the veterans’ memorial plaque which the Boy Scouts had given to the City of Edmonds. His query brought back the memory of that gift to the city in 1948.
Up until that time, the Edmonds seemed to have had no memorial to honor the veterans from the Edmonds area who had served in America’s wars. This plaque and the flagpole were both gifts to the city as a result of hard work by the young boys of the Edmonds Boy Scout Troop. The message on the plaque at the base of the flagpole stated that it was dedicated to the memory of the men and women who served in America’s wars.
It was a dark and rainy day on Saturday, Feb. 7, 1948 when the presentation was made by Robert McClenahan, a Life Scout, and then Mayor Fred Fourtner accepted the gift on behalf of the city. The Edmonds Tribune-Review reported on the gift to the city of the new flagpole and flag at the triangle next to City Center at Fifth and Bell by Troop 339 that Saturday afternoon. This presentation started Boy Scout Week with flying colors in spite of a steady rainfall. To the sound of the national anthem the colors were raised and unfurled by Scouts Howard Leyda and Ross Waggoner, Jr.
This ceremony followed an impressive parade through downtown Edmonds—a parade which included Scouts from Troop 339; as well as Scouts from Troop 460; Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts; contingents from Frank Freese Post 66, American Legion; VFW Post 1040 of Seattle Heights (now Lynnwood); the drum and bugle corps of Greenwood Post VFW, and the 13th Naval District band. Speakers at the dedication included the Commander of the State VFW; Sproule McGinness, commander of the Edmonds Legion Post; and a representative from the Boy Scout executive office in Seattle.
The gift from the Edmonds Boy Scouts appears not have been appreciated—a mere five years later the city removed this memorial. As announced in the Tribune-Review in 1953 “A city workman jackhammered the remains of the old memorial and flagpole base at Fifth and Bell in Edmonds.”
In the same newspaper, it was reported that Debbie Hallman, 4, was looking at the memorial in its new location near the baseball diamond at Edmonds City Park. Only the plaque was moved and a new base had been poured for the memorial. This too eventually disappeared, leaving us to wonder how long Edmonds’ new veteran’s memorial will be allowed to remain on city property.
As My Edmonds News reported earlier this year, the new Edmonds Veterans Plaza was unveiled in a Memorial Day dedication. The plaza and plaque located at the Edmonds Public Safety building was dedicated as the first permanent place to honor our military. We can only hope that this second memorial will have a longer life span than the previous one.
Meanwhile, after inquiries, nothing has been found as to the whereabouts of the “old plaque” and my brother’s question was never answered. Does anyone know what happened to the earlier memorial to our veterans? It is assumed the flagpole was discarded. Did the same fate happen to the veterans’ memorial plaque?
— By Betty Lou Gaeng
A long-time resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum. Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.