Looking back: A tradition of remembering our veterans

Betty Lou Gaeng speaking at the Edmonds Memorial Day ceremony in 2018. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Through the years, Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium has become known as A Place of Tradition; and one of its most respected traditions has been the annual Memorial Day Observance program held at the cemetery.

This traditional day of remembrance had its beginnings in 1983, following the City of Edmonds acquiring ownership of the cemetery from the estate of Lawrence Emerson Hubbard, Edmonds real estate broker and businessman. Before his death on Feb. 19, 1982, Larry Hubbard purchased the cemetery from owners Roy H. and Dorothy M. Baker. Proof of transfer of ownership from Mr. and Mrs. Baker to Larry Hubbard is verified by a deed recorded Feb. 23, 1982 in the office of the Snohomish County Auditor.

In 1983, plans were underway to combine a cemetery dedication ceremony and a Memorial Day observance. However, after several years of neglect while under private ownership and also from storm damage and vandalism, the cemetery had become an eyesore. Thus, city workers, cemetery board members and concerned citizen-volunteers, worked tirelessly to see that the cemetery’s grounds and the gravestones were cleaned up and repaired for the event.

Cleanup and restoration work completed, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1983 at 11 a.m., area residents gathered at the cemetery for the dual ceremony. The Memorial Day observance included the presentation of colors by several groups, including members of the Edmonds and Lynnwood Veterans of Foreign Wars. In addition, local attorney Chet Bennett, representing the estate of Larry Hubbard, gave a brief talk about the history of the cemetery.

Following that first Memorial Day program at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery, the tradition continued, and by 2019 the Memorial Day ceremony was expanding and experiencing a growth in attendance; that is, until the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelation of all group gatherings. The first interruption in regular Memorial Day services at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery came in 2020 when the event was cancelled. Then, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021, as the virus continued its spread, the cemetery board and the city tried something different in the form of a stay-in-your-car Memorial Day drive-thru ceremony.

As we now return to more normal times, the traditional in-person Memorial Day program will once again be held at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery & Columbarium.  Since the program will be held outside, masks are optional. However, because COVID does still remain a concern, no refreshments will be served this year. For more information, a copy of the 2022 poster is shown here.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of early-day Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. She is also an honorary member of the Edmonds Cemetery Board.

Publisher’s note: Members of Edmonds VFW Post 8870 will hold a second short Memorial Day ceremony at 1:30 p.m. May 30 at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza. The featured speaker will be Edmonds City Council President and U.S. Air Force veteran Vivian Olson. All are welcome.

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