Veterans voice: A proud place: Veterans 'Walk of Honor'

February 11, 2012

In October 2000, "Bud" Collins suggested to Linda Adams that a scattered ashes memorial be established for the purpose of honoring veterans who were buried out of this country, cremated remains that were scattered at sea, favorite hunting grounds, fishing holes, backyards or on favorite mountains.

History tells us that there is a memorial located at Idlewilde Cemetery, 980 Tucker Road in Hood River, for this purpose, but the deceased are not specifically identified as veterans.

Linda presented the idea to Brian Johnson, caretaker of the cemetery at that time. He took the request to the board of directors and the request was granted.

It was decided that the memorial would be located at the sidewalk leading to the Veteran Statue, a location where the annual Memorial Day Ceremony takes place. Roger Schock, a local businessman (and later county commission president), volunteered to place the markers at the location. Linda contacted family members to obtain permission to request memorial markers from the Veterans Administration.

Bud Collins referred to our project as the "Walk of Honor"; thus the name was established. Dedication of this memorial took place May 28, 2001. Bud passed away Feb. 4, 2010. He was instrumental in creating this Walk of Honor.

It surprises many Americans to learn that every day, 1,800 veterans die. That's more than 680,000 veterans every year -or 25 percent of all the people who die in the country annually. At this rate, what do we do when we run out of space to place memorial markers?

In 2010, Roy Gaylord, retired land surveyor, designed the renovation of the Walk of Honor, taking place now at the cemetery and will be completed soon with the cooperation of Mother Nature. All of the existing veterans' plaques were removed, refinished and put in place.

This is the history of the Walk of Honor, and each year, with heavy hearts, we continue to add veterans' memorial markers to this memorial. To date, 98 veterans' markers have been placed on the Walk of Honor.

Any family who has a veteran with an honorable discharge can get a headstone and/or plaque at or after the time of death. Contact Bob Huskey, sexton of Idlewilde Cemetery, at 541-386-2599 for verification of eligibility and arrangements.

Burial and Memorial Benefits: Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and service members who die while on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training, and active duty service members may be eligible for VA burial and memorial benefits.

Veterans, active duty service members and retired Reservists and National Guard service members are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery -national, state veterans or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world.

For eligible veterans whose deaths occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may provide a government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a national or state veterans cemetery.

Flat markers are available in bronze, graphite or marble. Upright headstones come in granite or marble. Headstones and markers previously provided by the government may be replaced at the government's expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, vandalized or stolen. All installation fees are the responsibility of the applicant.

There have been more than 60 applications received for the position of Veterans Service Officer for Hood River/Wasco counties. Those are being reviewed and interviews have been scheduled.

In the meantime, Linda Adams will be in the Veterans Service Office in Hood River at 601 State St., 541-386-1080, on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office will be open on Wednesdays also, with a volunteer to make appointments, referrals and answer questions.

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