Enumclaw residents past and present were featured April 6 as King County honored the memories of those who served the nation during World War I.
Thursday was the 100-year anniversary of the day President Woodrow Wilson sought a declaration of war to join U.S. allies fighting in “the war to end all wars.” In recognition of the moment in history and in memory of the King County and city of Seattle employees who then left their families, jobs and lives, King County Council vice chairs Reagan Dunn and Rod Dembowski unveiled two refurbished bronze plaques at the entrance of the King County Courthouse.
“In the face of danger and discomfort, far away from home, our troops fought for our country and for freedom,” Dunn said. “King County will never forget that sacrifice, and these rededicated plaques serve as a physical reminder of that commitment.”
During the war, more than 60,000 residents of Washington served in the Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard including more than 500 employees of Seattle and King County government.
Taking part in the Seattle ceremony were members of Enumclaw’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1949.
“It’s an honor to able to take part in events like these especially for veterans of World War I and World War II who led the way,” said Al Zarb of the Enumclaw VFW. “There’s not many of those veterans left and their story must continue to be told.”
One of the names honored on the memorial plaque was James George Lafromboise, who worked as a truck superintendent for King County before serving in World War I. Lafromboise came from a well-known Enumclaw family; his father Samuel served as mayor of Enumclaw, brother Clarence was the owner of the Enumclaw Courier-Herald and another brother, Guy, served as chief of the Enumclaw Fire Department. Two of his relatives – grandsons Harry and Mike Shepard – were able to join the Thursday ceremony.
“We never even knew our grandfather worked for the county; we knew he was a mechanic with the merchant marines during the war, but it was a surprise to hear he was going to be honored,” Harry Shepard said.
In 1931, King County and the city of Seattle affixed bronze plaques entitled “Honor Roll of County Employees” and “Honor Roll of City Employees” at the entrance to the County-City Building — now the King County Courthouse — to honor the service of these brave men and women.
Time and weathering left the plaques in need of repair, so Dunn and Dembowski advocated for funds to restore these pieces of local history.
To see the newly rededicated plaques, visit the King County Courthouse at 516 3rd Ave. in Seattle. The memorial is on the 4th Avenue side of the building between James and Jefferson streets.