Memorial Day evokes a range of powerful emotions and memories of loved ones who have passed away. The desire to honor them with a meaningful remembrance stirs people’s hearts.
Pamela Maddess served as a Cemetery Adviser at New Tacoma Cemetery and Funeral Home, until her retirement at the end of 2020. Technically, she is officially retired. Over the 15+ years of her dedication to helping families select burial plots and headstones for their loved ones, she has shown remarkable compassion and professionalism that has endeared her to countless families. Helping veterans’ families has resonated with her in a deeply personal way. Veterans’ resources are often not fully understood by a grieving military spouse and other loved ones, who are tasked with making final arrangements.
Pamela’s father served in the military as did other close family members. She knows the sacrifices that military families commit to when they serve our country at home and abroad. She has seen the wounds of war including the debilitating and deadly toll that it can take, as it has even within her own family. One painful example is that a spouse’s life was ultimately claimed by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Each year as Memorial Day approaches, Pamela has spearheaded the Flag Planting event with a laser-focus on planning, organizing, scheduling the volunteers, and supervising it.
There are more than 3,000 veterans’ graves at New Tacoma Cemetery. On the Thursday before Memorial Day each year, volunteers from community groups flock to the cemetery to walk from grave to grave and plant an American flag on each one to honor those who have served our country. Thursday, May 27, 2021 was no different from other years.
Even though Pamela had retired, she took the initiative to continue the tradition and serve as the volunteer liaison to ensure that the Flag Planting event would be a success once again.
Dave Matzen’s Boy Scout Troop 248 “is based in University Place, but we are very unique,” he says. “Our Scouts come from everywhere. I have Scouts from Lacey, Tacoma, Steilacoom, Lakewood, Gig Harbor…the whole greater Tacoma area.” His Troop has produced more than 100 Eagle Scouts over the years under his leadership.
Boy Scout Troop 248 is equally committed to the annual Flag Planting at New Tacoma Cemetery. The Scouts make it their tradition and priority to plant those 3,000+ flags on the veterans’ graves.
But it’s also a family affair – not just the Scouts themselves – but also many of their parents, siblings and other community volunteers participate in the solemn effort to honor veterans during the week of Memorial Day by giving of their time to achieve this remarkable task.
Pamela acknowledges Dave’s exemplary leadership as “a true patriotic partner in the annual Flag Planting event held at New Tacoma Cemetery preceding the Memorial Day weekend. His leadership with his Boy Scout troop and his continuous quality improvement perspective has ensured that we have a seamless activity. This event has grown to have around 60 Scouts, their families and other church and community members with a program that celebrates veterans and reinforces their service and sacrifices. Dave is a role model to his Scouts with his commitment to the BSA values, his devotion to his family, his physical fitness routine and his hard work ethic. I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with him every year and look forward to many more years of seeing the cemetery decorated with flags to honor our Vets.”
For detailed answers to your specific questions about death benefits and other resources for veterans’ families can be obtained directly from the Veterans Administration.
Beneficiaries who are receiving Pension Benefits should call 1.877.294.6380 with any questions or concerns.
Additional VA benefits include:
• Death Pension
• Dependency Indemnity Compensation
• Direct Deposit
• Directions to VA Benefits Regional Offices
• Disability Compensation
• Disability Pension
• Home Loan Guaranty
• Medical Care
• Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
For answers to your specific questions about any of the above list of VA Benefits, call 1.800.827.1000.