The Black Diamond chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a new memorial garden and plaque during a small ceremony at the city cemetery June 18, honoring the 100-year-anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The new display — called a “Never Forget Garden” — is in honor of the historic monument in Arlington, VA dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains are unidentified. The Tomb, finished in November 1921, bears this inscription on the back: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
“Nothing is really ended until it is forgotten,” speakers from the Mary Fell Stevenson Chapter of the DAR said at the ceremony, which is why they spent the afternoon commemorating the garden and reciting the contributions of local veterans buried at the ceremony.
Chapter members Katie Hanzeli and Dee Israel, who is also on the city’s cemetery board, spearheaded much of the original efforts to put the plaque in the park.
The brief, 15 minute ceremony included a flag raising and 21-gun salute by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5052. A bugler for the Tahoma National Cemetery performed Taps. City council member Tamie Deady was also in attendance and spoke briefly during the ceremony.
“I think the importance of these ceremonies is to take those 15 minutes, stop and pause, and to appreciate,” said Melissa Finn, the regent (or chapter president) of the Mary Fell Stevenson chapter. “When they play Taps, I’m stirred. And I don’t stop to be stirred, even on the 4th of July. … We’re told that we remember things best if we have an emotional response, and this helps me to remember, to value its importance.”
A plaque commemorating the garden was set into a cement pillar in the center of the garden. The pillar itself came from the Morgan Slope Mine #11, in operation from 1896 to 1927. The Palmer Coking Coal Company donated that pillar to the City of Black Diamond, which in turn gave it to the Never Forget Garden.
The Never Forget Garden is part of a national effort, started in 2018 by the nonprofit Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Solider, to place markers and plant gardens around the country. The gardens invite visitors to reflect and show gratitude for the sacrifices of veterans and their families.
The markers read in part: “This is a place to remember why millions of Americans have fought and died for our liberty and our freedom. Here we renew our promise to fulfill America’s sacred duty to never forget.”
The Black Diamond Cemetery has 42 known U.S. military veterans interred, speakers at the ceremony said. They served in the Union Army during the Civil War, in World Wars I and II, and in Korea and other conflicts. Speakers also remembered miners buried at the cemetery who died in mining accidents.
The Mary Fell Stevenson Chapter’s namesake was the first woman to settle in Enumclaw. The chapter was organized in 2014 and draws members from Enumclaw, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Kent. As a part of the nonprofit, apolitical Daughters of The American Revolution, the chapter maintains historical sites, promotes literacy and historical understanding and works on behalf of local veterans.