Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
WWII Memorial dedication
May 28, 1999
Thank you, Secretary Munro. I am truly honored and excited to be here today.
On behalf of the people of the state of Washington, I want to welcome all of you to our beautiful state capitol campus. This is a special day, for which so many of you have waited so long. It is a day that is long overdue.
It is indeed a very special day for all of us, but particularly for those who served in World War II, a seminal event in the history of the entire 20th century. We dedicate this lasting tribute to more than 6,000 Washingtonians who gave so much — the ultimate sacrifice — more than 50 years ago.
But let us also use this occasion to remember and honor the 200,000 World War II veterans still living in our state. We must never forget to say "thank you," and this memorial will help us do just that.
World War II was an event that unified the people of our nation like no other time in our history. While our veterans fought on the front lines, millions of other Americans served on the home front, providing the necessary equipment and support, like metal recycling drives and war bonds, for those in uniform.
Who were these soldiers in uniform? They were called "Yank" and "GI", "Swabby" and "Flyboy." They were "WACs" and "WAVES", "Leathernecks" and just plain "Joe."
But here at home, we had other names for them, like mom and dad, son and daughter, brother and sister.
The people who fought and gave their lives were black, white, yellow, red. African-American and Japanese-American soldiers gave their lives for our country, even though their loved ones at home lived in segregated communities or in camps behind barbed-wire fences.
Yet they volunteered for military service because they believed in the destiny and promise of the American dream and the essential goodness of America.
All of our World War II soldiers fought to preserve democracy and freedom, not just in America, but all around the world. That’s why our veterans deserve the best we can give them. They deserve the highest honor and our deepest gratitude.
So much of the freedom and prosperity that my generation now takes for granted was guaranteed by the 6,000 Washingtonians we honor here today, and all the veterans of World War II.
You made tremendous sacrifices to preserve our democratic way of life. All of you expressed your willingness to lay down your life for this country the first day you put on your uniform. It is that courageous sacrifice and love for our country that we cherish and honor today.
With that thought in mind, I am proud to present the following proclamation. (Proclamation read)
Let me now introduce, once again, the First Corps Band from Fort Lewis, under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Bob Shoaf, as they perform for your enjoyment a World War II-era musical medley.
I am honored to introduce the following individuals who will be escorted by a few of our leaders of tomorrow to unveil the memorial.
These individuals are World War II veterans from every branch of our Armed Forces, the civilian home front, and others who played a vital role during the war effort. They represent and symbolize the contributions of the World War II generation.
Please hold your applause until after all have been introduced.
He served as a staff Sergeant with the 3rd Army Corps from 1942 until 1945, as part of the proud Filipino-American troops. Reynaldo Bermudez, Sr.
As a lieutenant in the Coast Guard, he served from 1941 until 1946, in the Pacific Theater and the Aleutian Islands as an engineer. Mike Bard.
He was a chief warrant officer in the Army, where he was part of the 438th supply company in the European Theater. Edmund B. Blanchette, Jr.
He was a quartermaster third class in the Coast Guard from 1945 until 1946, and served in the Pacific Theater. Herbert "Bill" Clark, Jr.
She was a yeoman third class in the Navy from 1943 until 1945, and worked in the Judge Advocate General’s Office in Washington, D.C. Marie Carle.
As a member of the proud Navy WAVES, she served as a radio operator in the Pacific Theater from 1943 until 1945. Dorothy M. Davison.
He was a first class petty officer in the Navy, serving in the Pacific Theater from 1942 until 1945, aboard the USS Nassau. Gene Matusalem del Rosario.
As a technical sergeant with the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1946, he was assigned to the Transport Command Pacific Wing. He is also our state’s Auditor Emeritus. Robert Graham.
He was part of the home front that produced more than 20,000 aircraft during the war, starting in 1936 as rivet bucker with Boeing. Bert Hilmo.
He served in the Army’s 442nd Infantry Combat Team in Italy and represents Nisei veterans. The 442nd is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. Jimmie Kanaya.
As a medic in the Navy from 1944 until 1946, he served in the Pacific Theater, attached to the Marine Corps. William May.
As a private first class with the 5th Marine Division from 1943 until 1946, he was part of a gunfire team that took part in Iwo Jima. Donald M. Newbold.
She was a corporal in the Women’s Army Corps from 1943 until 1945, landing in Scotland on D-Day and serving as a troop control officer. Ruth Nordstrom.
As a member of the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen, he was part of force that flew more than 1,500 missions in the Mediterranean and European Theater. LeRoy Roberts.
He served as a steward’s mate second class in the Merchant Marines from 1944 until 1945 as part of the naval auxiliary. Harold Schmidt.
He was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and served from 1942 until 1945, as a skipper of LST 1053 in the Solomon Islands. Cort Skinner.
As a technician in the Army’s 5th Division, he served from 1944 until 1946, with the Signal Corps in the European Theater. Lawrence Tom.
She served in England, France and Belgium with the Army Nurse Corps, including taking part in the Battle of the Bulge. Winifred Walker.
Finally, he was a staff sergeant in the Army’s 5th Armored Division and served in the European Theater maintaining supplies to troops during the German offensive. I am very proud of my dad: Jimmy Locke.
Please join me in recognizing these individuals.
As governor of the State of Washington, I hereby direct the Washington State World War II Memorial be unveiled for all to see as a lasting tribute to those who served and died in the pivotal event of the 20th Century.
To dedicate this beautiful memorial, our young people and our veterans will now place "peace roses" as a symbol of their generations’ commitment to remembering the sacrifices made during World War II.
The United Nations named the peace rose as the floral symbol of World War II at the end of the war. Each of the 49 original delegates to the UN received a rose, along with a message of world peace.