MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – The public is invited to the dedication ceremony to be held Memorial Day weekend for a new marker to restore the memorial significance of Memorial Highway, State Route 536, west of Mount Vernon.
The dedication will be held on Saturday, May 24, starting at 1 pm at the Washington State University Skagit County Master Gardener Display Garden. The garden is on the grounds of the university’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center at 16650 SR 536.
In 1931 the highway was designated as Memorial Highway to honor Skagit County citizens who gave their lives in World War I. Both sides of the roadway were planted with 180 elm trees to memorialize the Skagit County veterans. Today all but three of the trees have died or been cut down to make way for growth.
Thanks to the dream of LeRoy Anderson, retired owner of Kern Funeral Home in Mount Vernon, the efforts and generosity of his daughter Connie LeSourd, and the work of the WSU Skagit County Master Gardeners a new memorial has been installed along the highway. Anderson’s uncle was one of the WWI veterans memorialized.
A memorial stone obtained by Anderson and engraved to again memorialize Skagitonians lost in “the war to end all wars” has been installed in a circular arbor in the rose garden of the Master Gardeners’ Display Garden just west of the NWREC.
Pastor Ron Deegan of First Baptist Church in Mount Vernon will serve as master of ceremonies for the dedication. Speakers will recount the story of Memorial Highway and the history of the monument followed by a reading of the names of the Skagit Valley soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, the playing of taps and retiring of the colors.
A special fund has been set up by the Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation for dedicated donations for restoration, maintenance and protection of the memorial. All contributors will be recognized in the program at the dedication.
For more information on the memorial effort or to make a contribution, contact WSU Skagit County Extension at 360-428-4270 or send a contribution to The Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation, P.O. Box 2801, Mount Vernon, Wash. 98273. Please indicate that you want your donation dedicated to the Memorial Highway memorial.