Memorial Day

Thanks to John Rose, Commander of American Legion Post 44, for this write-up on the history of Memorial Day.

No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated annually on the last Monday in May (this year—May 25, 2020)


 On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We spend time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind.

Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.


Traditionally, on Memorial Day (U.S.), people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each gravesite at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day—or Decoration Day, as it was first known—is unclear. In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation. After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.


In the war-torn battlefields of Europe, the common red field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) was one of the first plants to reappear. Its seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground was disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting of World War I. John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, witnessed the war first hand and was inspired to write the now-famous poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. (See below for the poem.) He saw the poppies scattered throughout the battlefield surrounding his artillery position in Belgium.


In November 1918, days before the official end of the war, an American professor named Moina Michael wrote her own poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” which was inspired by McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” In her poem (also shown below), she mentioned wearing the “poppy red” to honor the dead, and with that, the tradition of adorning one’s clothing with a single red poppy in remembrance of those killed in the Great War was born. Moina herself came to be known—and honored—as “The Poppy Lady.”

The Symbol Spreads Abroad

The wearing of the poppy was traditionally done on Memorial Day in the United States, but the symbolism has evolved to encompass all veterans living and deceased, so poppies may be worn on Veterans Day as well. Not long after the custom began, it was adopted by other Allied nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, where it is still popular today. In these countries, the poppy is worn on Remembrance Day (November 11). Today, poppies are not only a symbol of loss of life, but also of recovery and new life, especially in support of the servicemen who survived the war but suffered from physical and psychological injuries long after it ended.

“In Flanders Fields”
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

American Legion’s Memorial Day Service

Posting the colors at the service in 2015

Ridgefield’s American Legion Post 44 will once again host a Memorial Day service at the Ridgefield Cemetery at 11am on Monday. A live video of the service will be aired for those that don’t want to attend in person. Social distancing will be expected.

High Speed Internet

It’s coming! The Davey Tree people were trimming trees along the power lines on 4th Avenue this morning, in preparation for adding high speed internet.

Moola Project Continues

Thought for the Week

Chris Dudley wrote the following, and I think it has lots of good ideas. Hope you enjoy it!

“So maybe you’re thinking about learning to garden? I’ve got some advice that might make your life a lot easier.

I’ve come to believe that we all have a green thumb, it’s just we’ve lost the cultural knowledge for the convenience of the supermarket.

But you’ve got a green thumb, no worries. It’s in your genes. It just takes some patience with yourself to get it to show.

Don’t worry about failures. It can take a few years of killing off lots of stuff before you start to feel like a gardener.

It’s easy to lose motivation if you get frustrated with the drive for technical perfection. A big help for me when my motivation started dying–I was killing more than growing plants–was to just forget about all the technical stuff.

I no longer bother reading about or worrying about getting my ‘companion’ planting perfect, or my bed rotations correct anymore. I gasp, buy fertilizer sometimes where before I felt like it had to be home grown. In short I’ve learned to ignore all the rigmarole that makes gardening cumbersome.

I just plant plants. Half the time I don’t remember if it’s a tomato or a pepper and I rarely know what variety of tomato, or whatever, I planted is or was. Right now I’ve got about fifteen tomato plants growing and when it’s time to harvest I won’t know which one I’m eating, but it’ll still taste great.

My advice, set aside everything extraneous and just start planting stuff, read the directions about where, how much sunlight, etc., when you plant, but don’t go crazy about it. Just plant stuff all over, try putting one or two where they’re not supposed to go, etc.

When a plant dies just chalk it up to free mulch and drop it in an ignored heap of other plants that have died you can call a compost pile if you want to get technical about it.

That’s my advice. Seek the lazy path and the gardening journey will become enjoyable.

I never worry about weeds because I actually enjoy going out in the garden and pulling them. I’ve got a good set of headphones so I’ll listen to a podcast or some tunes, or often I’ll just try to pay attention to the sounds of the garden and nature. I have a good weed puller, though, and that’s key

So I pull the weeds up with that handy tool and leave them with their roots facing up to die in the sun. They then become free mulch, give back their nutrients and also conveniently shade the soil around the plant I want to grow.

I also let some of the ‘weeds’ grow because they’re very useful. Dandelion, for instance, is highly nutritious plus it adds nitrogen to the soil and feeds pollinators. I actually have a dandelion patch just as if it were a strawberry patch..

Come to think of it, you could probably just get an edible weeds book or app to identify and pull the noxious weeds and also leave the useful weeds and call what’s left your garden. Most of those weeds are more nutritious and useful than our hybrid plants anyway.”

This Says it All!

Update on the Library Building Project

To everyone working hard to help bring a new Ridgefield Community Library to reality, here’s an update on the project from Amelia Shelley, Director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

“Let me begin with an apology for the lack of communication about the project. Being in the midst of a pandemic has certainly slowed us down, but not dampened our desire to continue with this project. We believe that the challenges brought about by limitations placed on construction by the state can be overcome while still maintaining a safe workplace. The bigger question remains what the long-term economic impact of the crisis will be on the community and the region, and how a new library fits into Ridgefield’s recovery efforts.

FVRL has been in a holding pattern for several months waiting for additional comments coming from the City of Ridgefield about the project. I learned this week from City Manager Steve Stuart that there are no additional comments on the drawings that were submitted for permitting. We have instructed our architects to go ahead with requested revisions, amend the drawings and prepare to resubmit the drawings and specifications for permitting.

Currently, I intend to take the project before the FVRL Board of Trustees for a go/no go decision at their meeting on May 18, 2020. If approved, we are planning on putting the project out to bid in June, hopefully award a contract in July and start construction in August. We will also move into our temporary location at this time. We had hoped to use a book brigade for moving the library. Because of social distancing, that will now depend on timing and what’s allowed for safety.

FVRL is facing many yet to be fully understood challenges from the coronavirus crisis. We are fortunate that our primary funding source is property taxes but that does not shield us entirely from impacts to revenue. Despite these concerns, we’ve had a recent boost to the project from a $500,000 state capital grant through the City of Ridgefield. We are hopeful that with our capital reserves, grants, donations and legislative support, we will be able to move forward with awarding this project in July.

The most frequent question I receive about the Ridgefield project is if we still have funds to raise. I know there are opportunities for donors to support specific items inside the library such as furnishings, art rail, shelving and other enhancements. Information about remaining items in need of funding is available through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation.

As always, we appreciate the support of the Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library, the City of Ridgefield and our many library patrons. Our hope is that when we reopen, we will have some furnishings and finishes for the community to review and provide feedback on for the new library. Thank you for your continued interest and support!”


The Ridgefield Lions

Many of our neighbors are aware of the Ridgefield Lions and how they benefit our community. But many don’t know anything about the Lions. Is it a social club? Is it a service club and if so, what do the Lions do? In fact the Lions is the largest service organization in the world. And we in Ridgefield are fortunate to have a very active club that was founded in 1948. Many members have been selflessly serving our community for multiple decades.

So what do the Lions actually do to serve the community and if some of it requires money, where do the funds come from? There are multiple activities the Lions are involved in. Examples are: Clark County sight and hearing, the annual Walk and Knock Food drive, the Green Bag food project that supports the Ridgefield Family Resource Center and Ridgefield Neighbors Helping Neighbors, college scholarships for Ridgefield HS graduating seniors, contributions to HS clubs such as debate and cheerleading, support for the scouts and many other programs. Where there is a need, there is a Lion to help out. Much of the funding the Lions need to support the programs come from our food service in the community. We have a food booth at major activities downtown that include 4th of July, Octoberfest, and other typical First Saturday events. The one big fund raiser is the food booth the Lions operate at the Clark County Fair each year. It, like other events that draw large crowds, has been cancelled for this year.

So we have a big hole in our budget, and that will prevent the Lions from making some of the contributions they have made in the past. We are in the process of brainstorming to come up with ways to fill that hole. And that is the purpose of this post. Do any of you readers have ideas that might make sense for the Lions, considering the virus situation, to pursue to fill the hole? Of course, the Lions being a 501-3c non profit, would happily accept any contributions that would help us carry out our community function.

BTW the Lions, as a civic service to the community, are offering to install flags for anyone that wants one. Just go the the Lions website for details.

Small Act of Kindness

One of Ridgefield’s great strengths is our strong and supportive community. During this time of physical distancing, it can be hard to witness and feel that sense of community. Take a moment today to recognize our community support by sharing small acts of kindness that you have received or witnessed.

These may include:
✔️ Check in on a neighbor, family, or friend
✔️ Display window/porch art to brighten your neighborhood.
✔️ Surprise a friend or neighbor with a note or card.
✔️ Make masks for your neighbors.
✔️ Send flowers or have a sweet treat delivered to a friend
✔️ Have a surprise Zoom birthday party

Share small acts of kindness or something that has brightened your day in the ‘leave a comment’ section above, and I’ll publish some of them. Keep doing the things that make Ridgefield home!

Who Dunnit?

Someone transplanted these lovely Merlot lettuce plants in my plot in the Community Garden, and I don’t know who did it. Was it you? I have exhausted my list of suspects and would love to be able to thank the thoughtful person who surprised me with this gift. Whoever did it knows me pretty well because the plants are arranged just as I would have. Thank you, whoever you are!

Feel Good Fridays Continue

This is Phase I

On May 1, Governor Inslee extended the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order until Sunday, May 31 and introduced a 4 Phase plan for reopening Washington State. Today, we are in Phase 1.

This is what Phase 1 means in Ridgefield:

What is changing:
• Some outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, golf, boating, and hiking have been re-opened with physical distancing restrictions in place. If you choose to recreate in these remember: leave 6 feet between you and others outside your household, check for openings before you leave, and stay close to home. If you will be utilizing the Port of Ridgefield boat launch, please remember the dock is for loading and unloading only.
• Existing construction projects that meet physical distancing criteria may resume/continue.
• Retail businesses may re-open for curbside business only.

What is NOT changing:
• City offices remain closed to the public. Our phones are staffed during business hours. Utility payments may be made online, by mail, drop-off, or phone.
• All gatherings (except for drive in spiritual services) are prohibited. All public events and park reservations through May 31st are cancelled.
• City parks and trails remain open. Play structures, sports courts, and public restrooms at parks are closed.
• To alleviate worry and maintain a standard of health in our community, the City will not assess late fees nor disconnect water service until further notice. You will continue to receive bills and past due reminders during this time. If you are having trouble paying your bill, please call us at (360) 887-3557 to make payment arrangements.
• All non-essential meetings, including regular Parks Board and Planning Commission meetings, will be suspended. Essential City Council meetings will continue to occur but will be conducted via teleconference. City Council members will not be attending the meetings in person.

Thought for the Week

The Toilet Paper Art Challenge

Eight of our talented Ridgefield artists submitted entries into the Toilet Paper Art Challenge sponsored by the Ridgefield Art Association. You can help reward them for their creative work by going to the webpage below and voting for your favorite entry. One vote person please. Voting will conclude and winners will be announced at 1pm on Monday, May 4th.

The City of Ridgefield will award a prize to the ‘People’s Choice Winner’.

Victory Garden Contest Opens

People all over the world are taking time during the global slowdown to start their own vegetable gardens. We thought, why not celebrate the abundance of green thumbs right here in our beautiful Ridgefield area? We have adopted the name “Victory Gardens,” popularized during World War II, to highlight that self sufficiency in a time of great economic and supply chain uncertainty can also be a patriotic act. Growing our own vegetables, herbs and flowers can allow us to live more sustainably too. In other words, this contest is a winner by every measure.

Important dates:

Contest Opens: May 1st, 2020

Final Submission Date: August 23rd, 2020 by 11:59pm

Winners Announced: September 1st, 2020

Contest Rules: Gardens must be located in the 98642 zip code. They can be at a home, community garden or business and must be grown in 2020. Households or businesses with more than one garden may submit entries for each garden. All ages are encouraged to participate. Gift certificates for Lava Java Cafe will be awarded for each of the following categories:

10 Contest Categories:

Least Water Usage

Most Visually Stunning or Best Use of Art

Best Garden in Which to Be a Kid

Most Biodiversity

Most Improved (submit before and after photos)

Best Use of a Small Space

Best Food Theme (i.e. salsa, Asian veggies, herbal tea, pizza toppings etc)

Greatest Food Production

Best Youth Garden (Under 18 years old)

People’s Choice (most positive Facebook comments)

Important dates:

Contest Opens: May 1st, 2020

Final Submission Date: August 23rd, 2020 by 11:59pm

Winners Announced: September 1st, 2020


Please submit your contest photo by posting it on the Ridgefield Forward Facebook page, Indicate for which category or categories you would like to be considered. If you don’t use Facebook, you can still participate simply by emailing your pictures to


Sponsors:  This contest is co-sponsored by Ridgefield Forward, a newly formed collaboration of local volunteers focused on reducing and reversing Climate Change, and Lava Java Cafe owner Phuong Tran, who is passionate about conservation and helping the planet.

*Photo submission is considered permission to post; however, ownership of all images shall be retained by the photographer. Please note that all photos submitted will be posted on our Facebook site and may be used for contest publicity.