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Kittitas County residents now have a prominent reminder of the sacrifices made by armed service members, and it came from the hard work and fundraising efforts of residents who wanted to recognize the hard work done to protect our country.

A series of six large stones, each one recognizing a branch of the United States Armed Forces was dedicated Sunday in northeast Ellensburg. The stones are placed along the Circle the City trail system near North Alder Park. The project, which cost approximately $15,000 was funded in part by a matching grant secured by the Morning Rotary Club, with the rest coming from fundraising activities by the club.

“It was a great event,” Kittitas County Sheriff Clay Myers said of the dedication. “It wasn’t a formal thing. We didn’t have an agenda or anything. We basically just invited local veterans and the folks who were involved in the project.”

Myers said the project has been in the works for a couple years. Although Rotary conducts multiple smaller-scale service projects each year, Myers said they plan for at least one large one each year.

“We were able to obtain a matching grant from Rotary International,” he said. “That’s what allowed us to get this done this year.”

In order to raise the funds to match the grant, Myers said the club worked with the Downtown and Noon Rotary clubs to put on various fundraisers to get the project going.

“It was surprisingly easy to raise those funds,” he said. “People were very eager to give and support the project once they heard about it.”

Myers stressed that the six stones are not intended to be memorials, but instead are there to recognize and support the military branches and those who both serve and have served within them, highlighting the sacrifices they have made to protect our nation.

“The thing about the military is that even though we average 6,000 to 8,000 suicides a year from our returning military personnel, we have countless military personnel coming home different than how they were when they went away, both physically and psychologically,” he said. “Our military still shows up. They always show up, and they are always the front line to protect our freedoms and our country, regardless of the cost. This isn’t a memorial, but instead it’s for support and awareness, if you will, for all that our military does for us.”

With the size of the stones used in the project, Myers said the goal was to provide a source of support and awareness that was both substantial and visible to residents. Along with the Rotarian efforts, Myers said the project couldn’t have been done without the help from the city of Ellensburg.

“Without the city, we couldn’t have been able to accomplish this,” he said. “We had a lot of support from them, and it was great to see Bruce Tabb at the dedication.”

As the stones have been placed, Myers said he has been encouraged by the reception of the monuments.

“We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from our veterans and from our ROTC,” he said. “This is a community that appreciates and supports our military veterans, and they have for as long as I have known. That military support has never wavered.”

As a veteran himself, Myers said that support is tangibly felt throughout the community on a regular basis.

“The only word I can think of is humbling,” he said. “I’ve never met a veteran that was looking for recognition, and they never have to ask for it. The community is always supportive, and it’s every piece of this community. It’s the businesses, the government, the citizens. It’s a humbling thing and it makes you appreciate this community.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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