Tri-City gatherings to honor fallen service men, women

The Time of Remembrance ceremonies in the Tri-Cities this weekend will be a time for tears, inspiring words and memories. Lots of memories, including a few smiles.

Families from Washington, Oregon and Idaho will gather for two days of memorial ceremonies for the service men and women who died in the past decade fighting the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We've also invited families from Hawaii and Alaska to join us," said Shirley Schmunk, chairwoman of the remembrance committee and mother of a fallen soldier. "We've done that for the past three years. No one has come that we know of but we want them to know Washington still remembers them."

On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. is a candlelight vigil and moment of silence to honor the fallen. The ceremony is at the Veterans Memorial at the east end of Columbia Park in Kennewick.

Tri-Citian Jenn Ziller will sing and the various posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Military Color Guard plan to participate. Participants should bring a candle.

"There will be a lot of reflection time," Schmunk said. "It's a very emotional time for everyone."

Sunday is the official state recognition ceremony organized by the West Richland Chamber of Commerce at Flat Top Park, off Bombing Range Road. The memorial ceremony begins at 11 a.m.

The main speaker is Brig. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty from Camp Murray. He assumed the duties in June as assistant adjutant general of the Washington National Guard.

The public is invited to participate in the Saturday and Sunday ceremonies.

Schmunk said the number of families expected to participate in the Time of Remembrance is down this year.

"Likely because of the economy and cost of gasoline," she said.

"We do have gas cards we can give them. If they can get here, we can get them home again," she said.

The gas cards, hotel rooms and meals for the families, candles for the vigil and other expenses involved in the memorial ceremonies are paid for by donations from the community.

"Donations, too, are down this year," Schmunk said. Anyone wanting to make a donation to the all-volunteer committee -- all the money goes to putting on the ceremonies -- can send it to Time of Remembrance, P.O. Box 2561, Pasco, WA 99302.

The committee includes members of the American Citizens Encouraging Support (ACES), West Richland Chamber of Commerce, J9 at Washington National Guard Camp Murray and others.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com.