West Washington County fallen find home in Cornelius

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Members of the Oregon National Guard 218th Field Artillery unit based in Forest Grove fire a blank from an Army howitzer Friday during the rededication of Veteran Memorial Park in Cornelius.The sun shone Friday afternoon on Veterans Memorial Park in Cornelius as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to rededicate the park and remember hometown heroes lost in war.

A gently curving granite wall that sits as a backdrop to a veterans memorial was recently engraved with the names of 211 western Washington County servicemen and women who were killed in action, died of wounds suffered while on active duty or went missing in action over the last seven decades.

“These names include veterans from current wars all the way back to World War II,” said Zack Gallinger-Long of Hillsboro, who helped spearhead the park’s transformation over the last two years. “It’s a great comfort to know that the names of these veterans who sacrificed everything now stand in prominence in this community.

“I hope people will take a moment every time they pass or visit Veterans Memorial Park to think about the names on the wall and remember to thank all veterans for their service whenever possible, because

we can never

say thank you enough.”

Formerly named Arboretum Park, Veterans Memorial Park is the product of a community-wide effort led by Cornelius resident Amber Gilley and Hillsboro’s Gallinger-Long, the brother of U.S. Navy hospital corpsman Ryley Gallinger-Long, who was killed in August 2011 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

In December 2011, a bench was placed in the park in Ryley’s honor. By July 2012, Gilley, Gallinger-Long and many others in the community had come together to raise the funds and do the work to transform the city park into a memorial for fallen veterans.

Gallinger-Long spoke of the community effort it took to make the park a reality.

“I was an army of one,” he told the crowd, tasked with digging a trench for an electrical line. “I thought it would take a couple of hours. Three weekends later we were able to lay the electrical line.”

He credited friends, neighbors and a local Boy Scout troop for pitching in to help.

“It was not one person” who made the park a reality, he said. “It was a community. This park is by the community, for the community.”

Near the end of the ceremony, members of the U.S. National Guard’s 218th Field Artillery from Forest Grove fired three blank rounds from an Army howitzer.

The engraved granite wall completes the park project, which features a bronze sculpture of a “battlefield cross.”

“These names,” Gallinger-Long said, “are engraved in my mind and in my heart.”

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