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Community: Old stadium harbors memories
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a national day of remembrance to honor those who have died in our nations service. Locally, we have Memorial Stadium created to honor the sacrifice of The Greatest Generation. This year, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, is a fitting opportunity to reflect on those times, that generation and this community.
May 3, 1947, the first night baseball game in Oak Harbor was played under the lights at the newly constructed War Memorial Stadium. As reported in the May 8, 1947, edition of the Island County Times, Lyle B. Muzzall, chairman of the school board ... dedicated the Oak Harbor memorial stadium to the boys who came back and those who did not come back from the fight to preserve our way of life. Lyle Muzzalls son, Murray Muzzall, was one of the boys who did not come back.
Murray Muzzall graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 1934 as valedictorian of his class and president of the student body. He enlisted in the Army in 1941 and participated in numerous campaigns in the Pacific during the early years of World War II. He was commissioned in 1944 and killed on Mindanao March 24, 1945. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for heroic actions while leading his final assault.
There were at least 128 men and women from North Whidbey who served their nation in various branches of the armed forces during World War II. War Memorial Stadium was a community effort to honor their service. The lighted baseball field and grandstand were built on land donated to the school district in 1911 by the Izett family and shared the grounds with a classic, three story, wooden school building, constructed at the time on the land donation. Circa 1950, a football field was added to the site, completing the original plans for the memorial.
Unfortunately, most of the original Memorial Stadium structure has been demolished. However, the basement of the old school building and the football field remain intact. More importantly, the site remains and should be remembered and honored for its purpose. As you drive by Memorial Stadium on Whidbey Avenue, take the opportunity to remember and honor ... the boys who came back and those who did not come back from the fight to preserve our way of life.