Lynnwood Convention Center recognizes local veterans with appreciation dinner

More than 300 veterans, family members and supporters filled a dining hall in the Lynnwood Convention Center Sunday night to celebrate local veterans and their service to the country. 

The celebration was a collaborative effort between the convention center, the City of Lynnwood and the South Snohomish Veterans Resource Task Force. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Ramer emceed the event and spoke about the sacrifices military personnel make defending their country.

“Our purpose here tonight is to honor these people who have taken note to defend the United States of America,” he said. “There’s no greater calling, nor higher possible sacrifice.”

This is the first year the convention center has hosted an appreciation dinner, with the goal of increasing community engagement, said Lynnwood Convention Center Manager Sara Blayne. While brainstorming outreach ideas, Blayne said the convention center staff decided to invite the city co-host the dinner.

“As a part of the Lynnwood and Snohomish County community over the past 15 years, the Lynnwood Convention Center is enthusiastic when opportunities arise to partner with other community organizations,” Blayne said in a press release.

Blayne said the convention center is open to the possibility of making it an annual celebration.

In addition to honoring veterans, the event celebrated the 244th anniversary of the incorporation of the U.S. Marine Corps. The occasion was marked by a ceremonial cake cutting with a non-commissioned officer’s sword, which was later presented to Gold Star Mother Myra Rintamaki. Rintamaki’s son, U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Steven Rintamaki — a Meadowdale High School graduate — died in Iraq in 2004.

Also attending the event was Seattle’s Korean Consul General Hyung-jong Lee, who said he wanted to honor and recognize the service of all local Korean War veterans. During the event, Lee presented three veterans and two relatives of veterans with an “Ambassador for Peace” medal for their service during the war or United Nations-sanctioned peace keeping operations.

“Because of their sacrifice, South Korea survived the war,” he said. 

The event was attended by city officials, including Lynnwood City Councilmember and U.S. Air Force veteran Shannon Sessions, who read two poems — a Cheryl Dyson poem honoring all veterans and another that honored Vietnam War veterans.

Mayor Nicola Smith also attended the event, where she announced that the city was selected to be the recipient of a Gold Star Families monument that will be installed at Veterans Park. While installing the monument, Veterans Park — located at 44th Avenue West and 194th Street Southwest — will also undergo a minor remodel.

“The purpose of the monument is to honor our Gold Star families, preserve the memory of the fallen and stand as a stark reminder that freedom is not free,” she said.

Monica McNeal, president of the Washington chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, who spearheaded the effort to bring the monument to Lynnwood, said she is excited that Lynnwood was the monument’s chosen city (Tacoma was also being considered). 

“We are so grateful to you for considering our city,” Councilmember Sessions said. “And we are proud to be a city we can now call ‘veteran friendly.’”

The Gold Star Families memorial is expected to debut in Veterans Park between 2020 and 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.