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Boulevard of Remembrance — Going, Going…

Submitted by Mike Farley.

Four years ago, the late Nancy Covert wrote an article for The Suburban Times in which she described the origin of the Boulevard of Remembrance — the oak trees planted from the main gate of Fort Lewis northward toward the Tacoma City limits, honoring the servicemen who sacrificed their lives in the First World War — and raised some awareness.

Her efforts resulted in a plaque being placed in front of the JBLM Museum, facing I-5 where the oak trees had been planted.  Additionally, a stretch of I-5 from Nisqually to Lakewood was designated as The Boulevard of Remembrance.  Unfortunately, only a  handful of the oak trees still exist.

Originally, about 500 trees were planted (3 different species of oak), many with plaques commemorating individual servicemen.  In 2016 the number of surviving trees was reduced to approximately 66, but since then additional widening of I-5 has drastically reduced that number even further.

Another effect of Ms. Covert’s article has so far gone almost unnoticed.  In the Fall of 2016 Kyle McCreary, who was at the time Chairman of DuPont’s Tree Board, gathered acorns from under a number of the remaining oaks and planted them in potting soil in the City’s tree nursery.  The following year, the Army re-assigned him out of the State so it fell to me to continue his work.   

A number of the acorns had sprouted and grown into slender seedlings, so during the Winter, I transferred them into containers.  At present, there are 37 viable young oak trees growing in the nursery.  That should be cause for happiness, but unfortunately it is not.  

The fact of the matter is, no one seems to want them.  People and organizations who were either interested at one time or, because of their nature perhaps ought to be, haven’t responded to efforts to contact them.  

Unfortunately, these young trees — like their parents — may be approaching a crucial stage.  Trees kept too long in containers in a nursery lose their vigor, become susceptible to disease, or simply become “pot bound” and die.

So I’m writing this article as an appeal for help.  If you are part of an organization, a municipality, or a military unit that would like to plant one of these trees, please leave a reply to this article.  

It’s been over a hundred years since World War One ended, but that’s no reason to let the memories of the servicemen who died in that war go unremembered. 

(For more on the history of the Boulevard of Remembrance, read Dr. Denfeld’s essay in History Link.)

Mike Farley is a Retired Air Force officer, and resident of DuPont. Active in a number of volunteer organizations including DuPont’s Tree Board and the DuPont Community Garden. Mike holds a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and is a shameless tree-hugger.

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