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Beaverton remembers America's best on Memorial Day

The event is held at the updated Veterans Memorial Park on Monday

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Members of the Beaverton Police Department's Honor Guard, including Misha Sashayvich, presented the colors at Veterans Memorial Park in Beaverton during Monday's Memorial Day celebration. For many Americans, Monday was a day to relax, a day to shop and a day to barbecue.

But for many Beaverton residents, Monday meant much, much more.

On Monday — Memorial Day — Beaverton-area residents gathered by the hundreds at the city's sun-drenched Veterans Memorial Park.

They gathered to remember friends and family members. They gathered to honor their country. And they gathered to remember — and honor — their country's war dead.

Following recognition of the family of John Pelham — a Sunset High graduate who was killed in Afghanistan in February of 2014 — Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle read a proclamation offering thanks for the sacrifices made by American soldiers to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all American citizens.

Chaplain Wally Johnston followed, describing the day as a tribute to those lost and emphasizing that they aren't just names on paper, but people memorialized by the human connections they left behind.

The day featured patriotic music by the American Legion Post #124 band, pageantry (including flyovers by the West Coast Ravens and the Oregon Air National Guard, the presentation of colors by the Beaverton Police Department Honor Guard, and a ceremony to honor POWs and MIAs), prayers led by Johnston and fireworks (those courtesy of a musket volley by the Sons of the American Revolution).

The tributes continued with remarks from Brig. Gen. Steven Beach, assistant adjutant general of the Oregon Army National Guard. He told the assembled crowd to remember the sacrifice of America's soldiers and war dead.

I ask you to “offer quiet reflection to honor the fallen warriors who have given all they could give,” Beach said.TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The Vietnam War veterans memorial once housed at the Beaverton Elks Lodge has been relocated to Veterans Memorial Park in Beaverton, and was a focus of much interest during Monday's Memorial Day celebration.

For Beaverton city councilor Lacey Beaty, herself an Iraq war veteran, Monday marked a chance to honor and thank America's Vietnam vets. Those warriors, she said, came home to a country split by its opposition to war and the dedication it owed to its soldiers.

But because of their courageous response to the inhospitable welcome they received on their return home, those veterans set the table for better things in the future.

“They paved the way for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to be integrated the way they should,” she said. “They fought for us because no one was there to fight for them.

“To the Vietnam veterans we see here today, we look to you as an example of courage under fire.”

Monday also marked a celebration of Beaverton's Veterans Memorial Park itself. Long the site of the city's Memorial Day events and war memorials, the park (at Southwest Seventh and Watson streets) has seen two major additions in recent months.

First, in April, the park finally became home to a Vietnam war memorial — the first created in the nation to memorialize war dead from the conflict that ended after the withdrawal of American troops in 1973 — that had long been housed in the Beaverton Elks Lodge.

Construction crews built a base in April that now holds granite slabs engraved with the names of hundreds Oregonians who lost their lives in the war. Gov. Tom McCall dedicated the memorial back in June 1968.

Creation of the Vietnam memorial was spearheaded by the family of Richard Janigian, who died in Vietnam at age 20 just 10 days before he was to complete his tour of duty. Janigian’s parents, who have since passed away, used part of their late son’s government-paid life insurance to help fund the memorial. It will be officially dedicated at 1 p.m. June 9.

Second, the park recently saw the addition of a new rose garden, 75 bushes strong, at the sharp point of the triangular park where Southwest Watson and Washington avenues slant together. The majority of the bushes — their addition and care have been supervised by Marika Reiner, a past president of the Portland Rose Society — are the Let Freedom Ring variety, with bright red blooms. Others include Sugar Moon, Pretty Lady and one appropriately named Memorial Day that produces giant lavender-pink flowers.TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The West Coast Ravens were one of two groups that completed flyovers at Veterans Memorial Park in Beaverton during Monday's Memorial Day celebration. The Air National Guard performed the other.