Monday marked the first Memorial Day that DuPont residents gathered at the city’s war memorial without having to add to its list of names.
The south Pierce County city dedicated the Global War on Terrorism Memorial on Veterans Day 2010. Every year since, city councilman and retired Army colonel Michael Courts said, Memorial Day has been the time to pull at least one piece of black tape off the granite slab to reveal a new name etched underneath.
This year, however, there were no local deaths amid waning U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and many fewer deployments from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The annual ceremony still drew around 200 people to the memorial in Ross Plaza where the names are listed.
There are 18 of them: Mark W. Jackson. Christopher Bunda. Michael Burbank. Brian A. Mack. Alexander D. Fallstone. Jerry Palinsky. Henry K. Kahalewai. Nathan L. Winder. Sean D. Diamond. John L. Hallett III. Dane C. Paresi. James L. Miller. Conrad A. Mora. Brandon E. Maggart. Frank A. Buoniconti. David A. Johnson. Nathan L. Wyrick. Darron L. Wright.
“These are the lives of our husbands, our fathers, our sons, our neighbors and our friends,” Mayor Michael Grayum told the crowd.
DuPont keeps the memory of fallen troops front and center more than just one day a year. Wear Blue: Run to Remember, a national running group, was founded in DuPont.
“One of the biggest fears that we have as Gold Star family members is that the names, the lives, the story of our loved ones will simply fade into the tapestry of everyday life,” Rachel Elizalde-Powell, co-president of the local Wear Blue chapter that runs weekly in DuPont, told the crowd at the ceremony.
Her brother, Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Elizalde, was killed in Iraq in 2007.
“We had planned to run a half marathon upon his return,” said Elizalde-Powell, of Renton.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, who spoke after Elizalde-Powell at the ceremony, praised her and two other bereaved family members whose stories he highlighted for turning their losses into leadership.
“They faced the facts of their loss,” said Dahl, the deputy commanding general of I Corps at JBLM. “They chose life, and they got moving.”