Time of Remembrance and the Gold Star and Surviving Families will stage their first-ever memorial parade in Richland this weekend.
The 10th annual event begins Saturday in Kennewick and Richland, and continues Sunday morning in West Richland.
The parade, sponsored by the city of Richland, begins at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 24, followed by a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. along the Columbia River by the veterans memorial in Kennewick and memorial ceremony at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 at Flat Top Park in West Richland.
Parade participants will march from Torbett Street and Jadwin Avenue to Knight Street in Richland. All are encouraged to join the families at the Hapo Community Stage at John Dam Plaza after the parade for singing, speeches and presentations at 11:15 a.m.
The parade will also feature a military flyover, which starts at about 11 a.m., said Shirley Schmunk, founder of Time of Remembrance.
Schmunk’s son, Army National Guard Spc. Jeremiah Schmunk, died in 2004 in Iraq. She created Time of Remembrance to help other Gold Star families and survivors come together during times of tragedy.
“We have all lost our soldier, our loved one,” Schmunk said.
They held their first ceremony in 2007. At least 186 people from about 63 families will attend this year, Schmunk said.
This will be the first time that we’ve ever walked the banners in a parade here in the Tri-Cities.
Shirley Schmunk, founder, Time of Remembrance
During the parade, each member of a Gold Star and surviving family will carry banners for soldiers who died in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“This will be the first time that we’ve ever walked the banners in a parade here in the Tri-Cities,” Schmunk said.
Singing guests include Blue Star mom Valerie Pope, her son, Army Reserve Spc. Brian Pope, and the Word of Faith Center Worship Team. State Rep. Brad Klippert will be the main speaker.
The candlelight vigil will include escorts from Combat Veterans International, Patriot Guard Riders and American Legionnaire Riders.
An official state-recognized memorial ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Sept. 25 at Flat Top Park in West Richland. Mike Gregoire, husband of former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, will read a roll call of fallen soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mary Forbes, a retired colonel who works for the Department of Veteran Affairs, will also speak at the memorial.
Joelle Ellis, whose son, Robert Wayne Ellis, died in 2013 in Afghanistan, organized the parade and arranged the flyover with EA-18G jets from the Navy’s VAQ-129 Vikings Squadron, based on Whidbey Island.
She works closely with Schmuck and Karen Schultz, who’s retired from the Navy Reserve, to put this year’s events together.
“You need a year in advance,” Ellis said of the flyover. “We did it in less than six months.”
Ellis and Schmuck said they appreciate all the help they’ve received the community year after year.
“We are now part of a greater family.” Ellis said.
More information about Time of Remembrance can be found at timeofremembrance.org.