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News / Clark County News

Washougal plans to build new veterans memorial, including space to properly dispose of flags

City will host annual Memorial Day event at cemetery May 27

By Doug Flanagan, Post-Record staff writer
Published: May 18, 2024, 6:10am

WASHOUGAL — The city of Washougal has launched an effort to construct a new veterans memorial at Washougal Cemetery.

“When I first saw Washougal’s veteran memorial, it was overgrown and needed some love,” said Michelle Wright, the city’s public works business administrator. “People who gave their all should be remembered in a way you should be proud of.”

The city is seeking donations and applying for grants for the project, the price for which is still to be determined, according to Wright.

“Currently the city has some funding,” she said. “But we just started our donation process and once we finalize designs, we can start looking for grant opportunities.”

The project will add to the current memorial by constructing six additional monuments — one for each branch of the military — which will be engraved with the names of local veterans. The memorial will include a flag retirement pit, to be used by Girl Scouts and other organizations.

The city is working with Antoinette Lettiere, the owner of Vancouver-based Covalent Architecture, who created a preliminary design rendering, which was recently shared with the city’s parks and cemetery board.

Girl Scout connection

Clairlynne Cothren, a Washougal High School senior and member of Washougal Girl Scout Troop 45703, is working on the project for a Gold Award.

Cothren has been advising members of Washougal’s park and cemetery board about proper flag retirement protocols and providing input in the fire pit selection process. She hopes to lead the city’s first flag retirement ceremony once the memorial is finished.

“My Girl Scout troop has been putting up flags up and down the Washougal Cemetery every Memorial Day,” she said. “We did a patch on proper flag retirement and flag burning, and it made me realize that we didn’t have anything around Washougal to do that properly.”

An American flag “should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,” when it is “in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display,” according to the United States Flag Code.

“You’re giving the flags one last chance to be honored,” Cothren said. “You burn them, and you have to scatter their ashes, usually in a memorial garden, or you hold them until you know where you need to put them. There’s a lot of talking, and there’s a lot of scripts and stuff that you need to follow.”

Girl Scouts must complete 80 hours of work on a project, which must have an impact on the community, to earn a Gold Award, according to Cothren.

“I think I’m around halfway there,” Cothren said.

The city will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, at the cemetery, 3329 Q St., Washougal. The event will feature guest speakers, a rifle salute, the playing of taps and the retirement of colors.

To donate to the memorial effort, visit cityofwashougal.us/764/Veterans-Memorial-Im provements.