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Purple Heart memorial in Richland restored thanks to community donors

Purple Heart memorial of purple sage destroyed by vandals in Richland

Ernie Crediford, a member of the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, talks about the shocking discovery he recently made at the natural Purple Heart memorial he helped create just off Columbia Park Trail near the boat la
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Ernie Crediford, a member of the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, talks about the shocking discovery he recently made at the natural Purple Heart memorial he helped create just off Columbia Park Trail near the boat la

A heart-shaped plant bed honoring military veterans that was vandalized before Memorial Day has been restored, thanks to the owner of Beaver Bark Gift & Garden Center in Richland and an anonymous donor.

And Ernie Crediford, the Richland man who spearheaded creation of the memorial about three years ago, couldn’t be happier.

“The public response was just phenomenal,” he said. “One good thing about this tragedy is it’s brought awareness to our little memorial.”

The 15-by-15-foot plant bed sits at the west end of Wye Park in Richland, off Columbia Park Trail.

It’s designed to resemble the Purple Heart medal given to wounded military service members, with a trim of fine gold rock and an inner section that’s a mix of crushed basalt and purple sage.

But in the days leading up to Memorial Day, someone ripped out the purple sage, a native plant.

One good thing about this tragedy is it’s brought awareness to our little memorial.

Ernie Crediford

Crediford reported the apparent vandalism to Richland police, and he also shared the situation with the Herald.

Renae Bobbett, owner of Beaver Bark, was quick to donate plants and send a team after learning of the memorial’s fate.

On Sunday night, she and her crew planted more than a dozen May Night salvias, a purple perennial.

Someone else — Crediford doesn’t know who because the donor hasn’t come forward to take credit — also came out at some point and planted verbena, another purple flower.

The donations meant the plant bed was in bloom on Memorial Day.

“I put out flags and we had a living purple heart,” said Crediford, part of the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society.

Bobbett said she was glad to help.

“I got a tear in my eye when we finished planting. Ernie was happy that somebody cared for the project they worked so hard on,” she said. “We are thankful for the veterans who give us our freedom.”

The native plant group is looking for volunteers to water the purple flowers, especially as the weather grows hot. A watering jug is on site or people can bring their own.

Crediford also expects his group will plant more sage plants in the bed come fall, when the climate is right for them.

“Veterans Day would the perfect time to plant,” he said.

For more on the native plant group, go to www.cbwnps.org.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald

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