Pictures and text by Rodney Cole
The following pictures were taken on 24 March 2008 at the Bremerton Veterans Memorial for World War I veterans located in Bremerton, Washington on Evergreen Park just a few blocks away from downtown Bremerton.
|This is a frontal view of the memorial displaying the Interpretative Board, Flag Pole and Stone Memorial with bronze plates. The row of flowers in front of the memorial is where the bronze plaque is located. Also in view are some folks doing homework on the stone benches behind the memorial and a biker on the bike path that surrounds the park.|
|This is a close up of the front of the memorial displaying 14 of the 3 x 5 bronze plates that contain the names of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who were from Bremerton and/or Kitsap County who were Killed in Action during World War I.|
|This picture is of the bronze plaque a few feet in front of the stone memorial lying in the flower bed that describes who the memorial is honouring.|
|This is a view of the memorial from the right side up close. In this picture you can see the Manette Bridge in the distance that links West Bremerton to East Bremerton. Also in view are students doing homework on the stone benches and the bronze plaque is also recognizable in the flower bed.|
|In this view you can see the Manette district of East Bremerton and 18 of the 20 bronze plates honouring the fallen from Bremerton and Kitsap County.|
|This is the Interpretative Board that was added to the memorial site in September 2001. It discusses local contributions to World War I and the history of the memorial.|
|The author and photographer of this memorial project near the Manette side of the memorial containing the remaining two name plates of those who fell during World War I from this community. The US Navy perpetually loaned the 3- pound saluting guns in the background according to the Bremerton City Parks Division. bremertonfww08. This photo is a rear view of the sentinels (3-pound US Navy saluting guns standing perpetual guard over the memorial).|
The Bremerton Veterans Memorial, located in Bremerton, Washington is dedicated to the sons of Bremerton and Kitsap County who lost their lives during World War I. The memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day 1962. The driving force behind the dedication was the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Both organizations felt that with the passage of time the memory of the sacrifices made by the residents of Bremerton and Kitsap County were fading. So, to perpetuate the remembrance of their sacrifice the memorial was constructed at Evergreen Park. The park itself is a ten acre area that contains a gazebo and park benches as well as a nearby boat launch.
Researching the Memorial is difficult because there appears to be no written documentation concerning its design, costs and the feeling of the people who were responsible for its construction in 1962. Research of microfilm containing copies of the local newspaper in November 1962 provided zero articles on its dedication. The Bremerton City Parks Department provided some documentation for construction upgrades concerning the immediate vicinity of the memorial and information on the US Navy's saluting guns that are on perpetual loan to the memorial.
The memorial itself lies in front of two US Navy 3 pound saluting guns. As a viewer is standing in front of the memorial, there is a flag pole and an interpretative board that describes the memorial and the sacrifice of the twenty men from the city and county whose names are inscribed on bronze plates attached to a massive block of stone. Just in front of the stone block is a flower bed that surrounds the memorial and in the flower bed is a plaque that says "Bremerton World War I Memorial: In memory of the local men who bravely fought and died in World War I to preserve freedom".
As I Researched the memorial I found it very odd that several of the people I thought would know or have some idea of the memorial knew nothing about it let alone its existence. Several people told me that they did not even know that there was a memorial at Evergreen Park even though they had been there before? I made several trips to the memorial reading all of the names on the memorial and analyzing the surrounding area. Many people were walking on the paved path around the ten acre park, walking their dogs, flying kites or running. Some were playing basketball in another section of the park and some where sitting doing homework not more than ten feet away from the memorial on a stone picnic table.
The memorial is not self contained, meaning if you look at the stone block you can see the twenty bronze plates with names and branch of service inscribed, but no dates? You have to look a few feet in front of the memorial to see a larger bronze plate with an inscription that says the memorial is for World War I. The utilization of the navy saluting guns gives me the impression of a perpetual guard. The later addition to the memorial in September 2001 of the interpretive board is of added value to the memorial. The added value comes in the form that it mention's the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which is a significant contributor to the economic vitality of the community and located only a few miles away from the park. The Bremerton Veterans Memorial is not the grandest of them all, but it does recognize the sacrifices of the community's fallen sons. My strongest feeling of the memorial is that lasting effect of World War I. When I initially viewed the memorial the images in my mind were of the Bosnian nationalist Gavrilo Princip who assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Balkan wars of the later 20th century between Serbia, with their ethnic cleansing campaign, against Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The lasting appeal of the memorial is the solitude that one feels in its presence and of the sacrifice made ninety years ago by the men whose names are inscribed upon its bronze plates.