Please keep this project “front of mind” as we say in marketing. Comrade Clyborne and his fellow members of the fund raising committee will need an effort by the entire Post to meet the financial goals for the Plaza. If you have contacts who may be willing and able to help and don’t wish to approach them yourself, get in touch with Ron Clyborne or Jim Blossey so that someone from the committe can make the contact.
The Edmonds Veterans Plaza Committee is moving ahead with its work of designing and raising funds for the new community recognition of all Veterans, past, present and future.
The crucial job at the moent is, of course, fund raising and our craft fund raising committee is hard at work.
If you have business or organizational contact who might help with donations, large or small, please do what you can to either solicit the donation yourself, or make the organization known to the committee. If you have questions, see either Commander Blossey, or Plaza Committee Chair Ron Clyborne.
The Plaza project is going full steam ahead and our fundraising committee wishes to remind all of our members that this is our project for the memory of all veterans past, present and future.
Each of us needs to look at ways in which we can contribute to the raising of the necessary funds; from our own contributions, large or small and from other community resources with whom we may have influence.
Fund Raising Undwerway
Under the Guidance of VFW Post 8870 and lead by the efforts of Ron Clyborne, a fundraising committee comprised of civic leaders, both veteran and non veteran, have begun work to raise the approximately $ 450,000 the project is projected to require.
There is already some seed money in the bank, including a donation from the city of Edmonds, among others and there is no doubt that sustantial contributions will be forthcoming as the word spreads in and around Edmonds.
Details of what the final result is expected to look like can be found on the project web page at http://edmondsveteransplaza.com/. (Some examples shown at left)
There is also a Facebook page under the name Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Online donations can be made from either of those two sites.
While we are, of course, looking for large sponsors who can support our project in substantial sums, in the end we will also need lots of small donations, so your online donation is welcome in any amount you can provide.
The important thing is for all of us associated with Veterans causes to do our part to promote and support the project in any way we can.
The article below was published on July 25th in the local newspapers. As you know, we dedicated the Plaza on Memorial Day this year. The hard part is coming up, design, fund raising, and completion. Everyone in the Post will have to help with one or more aspects of the project.
Edmonds Post 8870 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of America is partnering with the City of Edmonds to hold an open design competition for the future Edmonds Veterans Plaza in downtown Edmonds.
The VFW Plaza Committee decided to conduct an open design competition to promote local participation and pride in the new memorial, which will be located next to the Public Safety Complex at 250 5th Ave. N. in downtown Edmonds.
“Edmonds is one of the few cities of its size without a tribute or memorial to veterans,” said Ron Clyborne, VFW member and Veterans Plaza committee member. “The plaza is meant to reflect the bravery, sacrifice and strength of the service members who will be recognized and remembered in this special spot in Edmonds.”
The City of Edmonds dedicated the future Edmonds Veterans Plaza on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. Edmonds City Council member Strom Peterson, a member of the volunteer committee, spoke at the dedication and worked with the committee to establish the open design process.
“The citizens of Edmonds are grateful for all who have served our country,’ Peterson said. “A great way for our local community to feel a part of this special tribute is to create an open and collaborative process with the public in the design of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza.”
The design competition will be open to individuals and groups, students and professionals. You can download the guidelines here or can request a copy by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preliminary designs will be reviewed and selected by the VFW committee and then go through a formal design and approval process with the City of Edmonds.
Veterans Plaza committee members include: Ron Clyborne (VFW), Jim Traner (VFW, Past Post and District Commander), James Blossey (VFW Commander), Jim Collins (VFW & Legion), Jack Hall (Edmonds Museum), Strom Peterson (Edmonds City Council), and Maria Montalvo (Corvias Foundation).
Commander Fred Apgar presented the Post at the dedication ceremony with remarks on how important to remember those who have given their lives for America. Ron Clyborne organized the dedication and was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat, so to speak, in putting together a somber but dignified dedication on relatively short notice. Mike Reagan escorted Myra Rintamaki, a Gold Star mother, in placing a wreath at the monument. Post 8870 and American Legion Post 66 also placed a wreath at the monument. I would estimate there were approximately 80-100 attendees. This plaza has been a goal of Post 8870 since I was Post Commander 6 or 7 years ago, and I witnessed the dedication with pride on how our efforts have come to fruition.
At the July Post meeting, former City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite was honored for her enormous contribution to the development and completion of our Edmonds Veterans Plaza.
Plaza Committee Chair Ron Clyborne spoke of Hite’s contributions to the project, recognizing the essential nature of her part in its completion. While Hite recently resigned from the Edmonds position to assume a similar role in the City of Redmond, the Edmonds Veterans Plaza will surely stand as a highly visible symbol of her legacy to the city. She had served the City of Edmonds since 2012.
The Post and all Edmonds veterans and their families are indeed grateful.
One of the final items for the Edmonds Veterans Plaza, the new information kiosk is now on order, the deposit having been sent to the vendor, Advanced Kiosks, on August 11.
The kiosk will be located near the top of the path made of pavers honoring individual veterans and we hope to have it set up and running well before Veterans Day.
There are a variety of kinds of information that can be provided, all from online “cloud” access and include a link to WAServes ( https://washington.americaserves.org/) an online service set up to help veterans access services and information. We have provided this link before in this newsletter. If you have not done so. the above link will take you there.
The vendor will also provide software to allow us to set up a directory to guide visitors to each of the points in the Plaza bearing any particular veterans’ name and service information. It will take some time to organize and enter all of that information.
There will be ongoing maintenance required in both hardware and software, for which we have reserves in the Edmond Veterans Plaza fund, to help the city keep the Plaza current and well preserved.
At the July Post meeting, Jim Traner, who is a member of the Plaza Committee and one of the original organizers of the project, went over much of the details and a vote was taken to complete this part of the project.
Our thanks go out to Comrade Traner, Ron Clyborne and Bob Reinhart, who drove this portion of the project.
In the November 16th issue of the Edmonds Beacon, the photo at left and a story about John Shelton’s Vietnam War experience appeared, which read in part:
“Sometimes, amid the red, white and blue celebration of soldiers on Veterans Day, we can forget what many of these grizzled old men actually did.
They killed. Many vets are used to the first questions lobbed their way – How many people did you kill in the war? Most don’t want to talk about that. Then there’s Shelton, a Marine sent to Vietnam in 1959 before, he said, “they even knew there was a war.” Shelton was a sniper. He was 19. When it was all over, Shelton said he had 78 confirmed kills in the Vietnam War. “
Post 8870 Past Commander Jim Blossey feels that the Beacon story emphasizes the wrong aspect of the job of a Marine sniper and submits the following to corrects the record:
We are very grateful to editor Brian Soergel and the Edmonds Beacon for all the thoughtful coverage they give to our local VFW veterans and military veterans in general.
The Veterans Day just past provides a good example. While we held a brief ceremony at the new Edmonds Veterans Plaza, editor Soergel was standing in the crowd during a sopping November rainstorm. He interviewed one of our more active members, took a nice photo of him and placed them both on the front page of his paper. We are very grateful.
But at this point there is an important note that needs to be made.
The veteran he interviewed, John Shelton, was severely wounded in Vietnam and has been confined to wheelchair ever since. John was a Marine Corps sniper and he was very good at his job.
No one wants to kill another human being—not unless they are some sort of a psychopath—and you won’t find many of those people qualifying for today’s military. War is and always has been a dirty, messy, and highly undesirable job. It is not a game; it is not a matter of who has the highest score; it is a matter of who survives.
In the American military, soldiers go about their deadly job while trying to avoid being killed themselves. Sometimes even more importantly they do everything in their power to protect their comrades and buddies from being killed.
That is the job of the sniper—to prevent the enemy from killing or injuring your friends. Which brings us back to the killing question. What should be asked of a combat sniper is not how many people he has killed but how many lives have been saved by neutralizing an adversary intent upon killing your comrades.
The number of lives saved is, unfortunately, a question that no one can answer. In John Shelton’s case they must have numbered in the hundreds, perhaps even the thousands. His job was to eliminate threats to his comrades. His weapon and his skills were tools that he was able to utilize to protect those comrades. John and others like him are not life takers, they are life savers.
As a postscript, John Shelton, prior to entering the Marines, was a star high school running back with a four-year scholarship to UCLA. Instead he chose to serve his country, was sent to Vietnam and wound up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. There would be no football career for John, but he still had his scholarship. So he went to UCLA and four years later emerged with a baccalaureate degree in psychology. He went on to earn a masters degree and ultimately a PhD in behavioral psychology and became Dr. John Shelton. He had a long and successful practice ministering to thousands of patients and, undoubtedly, saving many more lives.
So again, on behalf of Edmonds Post 8870 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, I would like to thank Brian Soergel and the Edmonds Beacon for their continued coverage. And, personally, I would like to thank Dr. John Shelton for his service to our nation. May you always be remembered as one who saved lives…on the battlefield and at home.
James Blossey Past Commander
Post member Ron Clyborne provided this photo which includes his father, shown among the crew of his WWII bomber before his last mission. Clyborne senior is the man at far right in the top row.
An Alumnus of Virginia Military Institute (VMI), 2nd Lt. Clarence A. (“CA”) Clyborne , served in WWII as a bombardier with the 9th Bombardment Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, 10th Air Force.
Clyborne died in a Japanese POW camp in late Dec. 1943 of injuries sustained upon landing after parachuting from his B-24 Liberator. The bomber was hit by enemy fire and crashed during a mission to the Insein rail yards (Rangoon) Burma on 1 Dec. 1943.
His remains have never been recovered. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American cemetery and as of 2017 in the Edmonds Veterans Plaza Memorial Garden.
If you have such photos you would like to share, we would be happy to publish them in future newsletters.