On Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, the Lakewood City Council unanimously voted to support the naming of the “Boulevard of Remembrance and Remembrance Corridor ,” which will involve the placement of a historical marker, and the ongoing efforts to preserve surviving trees along the area of I-5 from the Mounts Road exit to the McChord exit.
The City Council’s support came after State Rep. Dick Muri and Rep. Christine Kilduff addressed the dais.
After they spoke, Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen said, “I think this is a fantastic opportunity to appropriately memorialize” the men who served in World War I. One of those men was Whalen’s grandfather.
In 1928, the Tacoma Garden Club established a plan to commemorate those who served in World War I. Individual citizens and organizations in Pierce County funded the placement of 500 Northern, Scarlet, English, and red oak trees along the Pacific Highway (now I-5) from the Nisqually River to Ponders Station.
Each tree memorializes an individual, organization, or military unit that served during World War I and many of the trees are visibly marked by a copper plaque set in stone recording the name of the honored person or organization.
On March 16, 1928, the “Boulevard of Remembrance” was formally dedicated by local and state leaders. In the decades that followed, however, a large portion of the memorial was destroyed by expanding roadways and freeway construction, thereby reducing the number of trees on the “Boulevard of Remembrance” from 500 to 66.
In the 1980s, a group of local preservationists, including Charlotte Medlock, born 1925, waged a successful campaign to save the 66 surviving trees and in 1989. Pierce County Resolution R89-164 recognized the importance of preserving the “Boulevard of Remembrance” as a visible commemoration of the sacrifices many bore in the defense of our nation. The 66 remaining trees located along I-5, from the Nisqually River to Ponders Corner and Fort Lewis, continue to honor our World War I veterans, organizations, and other individuals who contributed to the war effort.
Through a collaborative effort of local and state leaders, a request has been made to the Washington State Department of Transportation to officially name the area of I-5 from mile post 116 (Mounts Road exit), to mile post 125 (McChord exit) the “Remembrance Corridor.”