Back to News Front

Lakewood City Council votes to honor WWI promise

Boulevard of Remembrance keeps the memories of World War I alive

Charlotte ‘Polly’ Medlock is determined to save the remaining oak trees planted to remember those who died in WWI. Photo credit: Komo News

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

The Lakewood City Council voted unanimously to support the preservation of the Boulevard of Remembrance and the establishment of the Remembrance Corridor along the section of I-5 stretching from the Mount's Road exit (#116) to the McChord exit (#125), earlier this month.  Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen, whose grandfather, Joseph Gray, served with the 91st Infantry Division in World War I, applauded the city's decision to act on a resolution adopted by Pierce County almost 30 years ago. The decision came about in response to the advocacy of Mrs. Charlotte "Polly" Medlock, whose persistent efforts to protect this unique memorial have finally paid off.

The Boulevard of Remembrance, which at one time consisted of more than 500 Northern Red, Scarlet Red and English Oak trees planted along what was then the Pacific Highway from the Nisqually River to Ponders Station, was created by the Tacoma Garden Club to commemorate the sacrifice and service of all those men and women who had served in World War I. However, over the years, many of the original 500 oak trees were lost to the construction and expansion of I-5. By 1989, only 66 remained. That's when Mrs. Medlock entered the picture.

The wife of Airman Robert L. Medlock, a World War II veteran, Polly Medlock had grown up with the oaks and had watched them disappear over time.  Hoping to preserve the remaining trees from further expansion and development, she convinced the Pierce County Council that the memorial was worth saving, and a resolution was passed to that effect. But the resolution was never honored.

Recently, Mrs. Medlock brought the county's almost 30-year failure to honor their resolution to the attention of State Representative Dick Muri (R) who, along with Representative Christine Kilduff (D), began a bipartisan effort to see to it that the county kept its promise. Believing that working with local governments would be the best way to make the Boulevard of Remembrance and the Remembrance Corridor a reality, Muri and Kilduff have been making the rounds of city councils to gain the support of the cities impacted by the corridor, including Lakewood.

The Boulevard, which will consist of the remaining oak trees, a historical marker and eventually a pull-out so motorists can stop to admire the beautiful trees and learn about the memorial without creating a traffic hazard, will be part of a $500 million I-5 improvement plan which includes the addition of new lanes and interchanges. As many as a dozen of the memorial oak trees along the Remembrance Corridor are threatened by the expansion, but the state has agreed to replace any oaks that it is forced to remove.

Muri is committed to making sure this memorial is preserved for future generations. "I am adamant this is going to happen," said Muri. "This is the right thing to do."

The 91-year-old Medlock couldn't agree more. After almost 30 years, her advocacy is paying off. "If you want something done," she said, "you've got to go out and make a little noise."  

Lakewood is planning to make a public commitment to see this resolution through. On Veteran's Day, Friday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m., there will be a Remember to Remember event at the Lakewood City Hall. The event will feature the historical marker and other signs that will be used to designate the corridor. The public is invited to attend.

Remember to Remember Event, 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main St. SW, Lakewood

Read next close

News Front

Submit your military 12s photos to the Seahawks

comments powered by Disqus