Tribal Government & News
Memorial Day event limited to ‘invited guests’
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
In a sign that things are slowly and cautiously inching toward returning to normal, Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. announced in March that the annual Memorial Day ceremony will be held at the West Valley Veterans Memorial on Monday, May 31.
As the event grows closer, detailed plans are emerging.
The event will be limited to 50 people with invited guests only and not open to the general public.
Last year’s event was canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic became a major public health concern in Oregon.
Bobb said he talked with Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy and General Manager David Fullerton about holding an outdoors event at 1 p.m. that will include proper social distancing. The usual meal that precedes the event inside the Community Center will not be held, but box lunches will be handed out starting at noon for consumption onsite or later.
In 2020, Army veterans Douglas D. Stake, Alden H. Clark, Linden W. Frederic, Donald E. Holsclaw, David W. Weaver and Mervin J. Holmes and Navy veteran Ramona L. Quenelle had their names etched on to one of the four black granite pillars – one for each major branch of the U.S. military. Clark and Holmes are Native veterans.
This year, five veterans will have their names added: Air Force veteran Pamela J. Jones, Army veterans Marvin L. Davis Sr. and Jamie M. Jenness, Marine Corps veteran Rod McAllister and Navy veteran Roger A. Bly. Jenness and Davis are Native veterans.
Bobb said he has recruited Army Col. Larry Brown as the keynote speaker. He was a helicopter pilot who did two tours of duty in Vietnam and was shot down nine times. Former Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno, also a Vietnam War-era Marine Corps veteran, will speak as well.
According to a draft agenda for the event, Tribal member JC Rogers will once again perform the national anthem and Veterans Royalty Senior Queen Kaleigha Simi and Junior Queen Tasina Bluehorse will perform “The Lord’s Prayer.” Tribal Lands Manager Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach will play taps on the Native American flute to close the ceremony.
Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, will send a letter to be read during the ceremony.
Bobb will perform master of ceremonies duties, give the invocation and read the names of veterans being honored.
Last year’s ceremony would have been the 18th held after the memorial was dedicated in 2003. It was designed by Bobb, a Vietnam War-era Marine Corps veteran, and features a man and woman dressed in traditional Native clothing standing side by side reaching for the sky.
The four pillars feature the names of Tribal and community members from Grand Ronde, Willamina and Sheridan. The addition of seven names last year and five this year will increase the total on all four pillars to 2,374.