By Tami Beaumont
In 1946, a group of Monroe citizens from the Arthur Kincaid American Legion Post decided to dedicate the Monroe High School athletic field on Kelsey Street as Monroe Memorial Field. The field was dedicated Sept. 21 before a football game against Issaquah “in honor of former students who lost their lives in the service of their country during the recent war” (Monroe Monitor). The evening festivities included a performance by the band and speeches by several townspeople. It was the first evening football game ever played under the new lighting system installed by volunteers.
That night a promise was made to erect a bronze plaque at the field entrance with all the names of former students who lost their lives in the service of their country. Despite good intentions, it took another five years before the plaque was erected on a cement base and dedicated on Memorial Day 1951. In a strange twist of fate or maybe an oversight, the names of the students were never added.
The missing names and the long-forgotten memorial have troubled members of the Monroe Historical Society for many years. Most people drive by the monument and have no idea it’s there hidden behind a chain link fence. When Park Place Middle School teachers Tonia Boyle and Dottie Simoni learned of the neglected monument, they thought it would be the perfect history project for their eighth grade humanities students.
“As part of the eighth grade U.S. history curriculum, our students study WWI and WWII. They are very aware of the sacrifices made by our veterans, and in a small way, this is a chance for them to show their appreciation for those who served our country,” Simoni said.
The teachers and the historical society are now appealing to the public to find out which students from Monroe died in WWII or other conflicts. Once they collect the names, the middle school students will conduct research on each soldier as part of their project. Students will also be fundraising to pay for a new, enlarged bronze plaque with the names.
The Historical Society would like to unveil the new plaque on Memorial Day 2014 with a community-wide rededication of the plaque and field.
“By finishing the WWII monument, our students are given a real-life tangible connection to Monroe’s history,” says Teacher Tonia Boyle. “The students will bring awareness to our community in a way that honors the memories of the young men who stepped up to defend our country in a time of peril. It will remind young people that the freedom they enjoy today is because of men like these.”
If you can help the Historical Society or the teachers with names of former students who should be included on the memorial, please contact the Monroe Historical Society at (360) 217-2773 or visit the Facebook page “Historic Monroe WA”. The Society is also interested in hearing from Monroe citizens who would like to be involved in the project to refurbish the plaque or Monroe Memorial Field.