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Ted Burns, a high school senior, will participate in Memorial Day service at Veterans Park in Columbia City

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - A sculpture dedicated to all servicemen and women in the park is designed to have a sunbeam shine through it at noon on a certain date around Memorial Day. Behind the plaque are several walls inscribed with the names of veterans on individual bricks.On Memorial Day one year ago, citizens gathered to not only honor the memory of servicemen and women, but to dedicate the Columbia City Veterans Park, which was constructed to honor all who serve in the Armed Forces.

This year’s Memorial Day service, held May 30 at 11 a.m., will honor those who have died in service for the country through a selection of musical pieces, speeches and prayers presented by community members.

One of those community members has been heavily involved in the military community for more than five years, despite his young age of 18. Ted Burns, a home-schooled senior and Columbia City resident, has been a member of the youth organization, the Young Marines, for five years. He also plans to enlist in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman in the fall.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Six flags fly over six monuments at Veterans Park in Columbia City, each dedicated to a different branch of the United States military. The flags and monuments are dedicated to the Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.Burns, along with three other members of the Young Marines Oregon Cascade Unit, on Monday will present the nation’s colors after a welcome is given by Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. Burns will also read an award-winning essay he wrote for the Voice of Democracy Contest sponsored by the St. Helens Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1440.

“It’s really great. It’s a chance for me to show my support before I join the military and a chance to support the military as I go in to serve my country,” Burns said about participating in the ceremony.

Burns was also heavily involved in the creation and building of Veterans Park after joining the city’s Parks Committee in 2012 when the project was in its beginning stages. Columbia City City Administrator and Recorder Leahnette Rivers said Burns helped see the project through, and that it is special to have him still be involved in the event.

Currently, Veterans Park features seven monuments and three brick walls inscribed with the names of veterans. A fourth wall, which currently stands at the far north end of the park, will feature the names of other veterans as brick dedications are purchased. About half of the bricks have been sold already, Rivers estimated, and she anticipates a fifth wall will eventually be added.

Other plans for the park include creating two new monument pieces, a description plaque for the park’s main display piece, fencing and landscaping. The work will be funded partly by an Oregon Veterans and War Memorial grant and a Columbia County Cultural Coalition grant.