Tenino Veterans Memorial taking shape ahead of Sunday’s dedication ceremony

Hundreds of people are expected to crowd into a small portion of the Tenino City Park Sunday to witness the dedication of a new veterans’ memorial featuring the names of local veterans killed in action going back to World War I.

Sandstone carvings depicting the intersection of industry and wartime in Tenino will be inlaid within the stone retaining wall. The wall is being installed on either side of a staircase leading up to a monument with a gold star and the names of those lost overseas.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday and will include remarks by U.S. Rep Denny Heck and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s I Corps from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The ceremony also will acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Mayor Wayne Fournier will conclude the ceremony precisely at 11 a.m., the moment on that day in 1918 when the Armistice concluding the war took effect. After a moment of silence, a lone bugler will play taps in memoriam.

“It feels good and honestly it’s pretty exciting to see this through,” Fournier told The Chronicle. “We’re dedicating the memorial to those who have given their lives in service of the country, but also want to highlight those who have done great things for their country through their service. We don’t want to just talk about the sad aspects of military service, but also focus on the reciprocal benefits Tenino has had with the military. That’s kind of what the whole monument is about.”

Lenkerbrook Stoneworks’ owner Bill Lenker and fellow stone artisan Troy Kindred worked on the hand-set stone wall at the Tenino City Park Monday in preparation for the dedication ceremony of the adjacent Veterans Memorial. Consisting of three monoliths with the centerpiece honoring the names of the fallen, the five-month project was designed by Lenker who envisioned an art deco theme to the work.

Lenker told The Olympian, “We’re still going to extend the wall down around the corner as all of the arches are in along with all of the main features and will continue up to the Quarry House one the next few weeks.”

Frank Hicks, a veteran of the Vietnam War and the Commander of VFW Post 5878, clutched a copy of a newspaper from November 2015 while walking through the construction site last week. The front page showed a photo of the old Wall of Honor listing Tenino residents that fought in World War II.

That memorial came down decades ago and was the impetus for the VFW pushing for a replacement that the city eventually took the reins on.

“At some point, we still hope to do the honor roll,” Hicks said. “Citizens here wanted to do more to redo that, effort that went into the quarry pool. We’d still like to see that part of our history come back.”

A section of Tenino’s history will be reflected in the new memorial by way of a four-part series of sandstone carvings along the walkway.

The first will show a man swinging a hammer. The next one depicts people laying down their tools to pick up arms for battle, followed by one showing those people laying down their arms in favor of those tools. The final frame shows a woman jumping into the quarry pool.

“Those carvings are going to tell the story of the war efforts and their effect on industry in Tenino,” Fournier said. “Everything is really coming together in a good way.”’

The Olympian contributed to this report.