Dick Johnson, his father, his son and his grandson all have bricks placed at the Island County Veterans Memorial Plaza in downtown Coupeville.
Each of the bricks details the branch of service, years served and the rank of each of his family members. Johnson said that while he is proud of his family’s military service, it’s also important for the community to be aware of those who have served.
“It’s important, not so much for me, but it’s important to show people we are defending this country,” Johnson said.
For that reason, Johnson and the Oak Harbor Chapter of Disabled Veterans are asking the Island County military community to become part of the memorial. Donors can purchase commemorative paving bricks starting at $100. Individuals or businesses who donate amounts of $1,000 or more will be listed on a larger granite stone. These “Star Donors” can receive up to five stars for donations up to $20,000.
The memorial stands “as a powerful reminder of those who have served,” Johnson said.
“But it will also remind us that out of war and conflict can come hopes and dreams and the confident strength to look forward.”
The Veteran’s Memorial Plaza is located across from the main entrance of the new Island County Law and Justice Center in Coupeville.
Paved with commemorative bricks the circular plaza features a wall of bronze panels depicting the stages of war. Created by artist Washington John Sisko and entitled “Homecoming,” the memorial represents “the transition from war to peace, remaining vigilant, being mindful of the costs of conflict, and dreaming of the future with confidence in what lies ahead.”
Money collected through donations will go to resurfacing the bronze plaques, which should happen at least every three years, Johnson said. The estimated cost for the cleaning is $500 to $1,000.
The project was initiated by Coupeville resident Bill Ethridge who was a POW in Germany during World War II. The Island Art for Veterans organization was created to raise funding and support for the memorial. Supported by Island County commissioners at the time, the county donated the space at Center and Sixth streets, comprising $70,000 worth of site preparation. The project was approved in 2004 and was erected shortly thereafter.
Moving forward, Johnson would like to see the plaza filled with the names of those who have served and the businesses and organizations that support them. He said he hopes that bricks continue to be added each year.
“It honors all the people who have served,” Johnson said. “I hope it goes on forever.”