Almost 50 Lynnwood residents stood on the sidewalk along busy 44th Avenue West on Monday afternoon to witness the unveiling of a new veterans sign, which stands to let the community know that Lynnwood welcomes veterans and aims to support them in any way possible.
This sign is the first of many that will be erected throughout the city’s main thoroughfares in the coming year, according to Councilmember Shannon Sessions. Depending on funding, the city is planning to add 10-12 similar signs as a visual reminder of Lynnwood’s commitment to its veterans.
Sessions said this sign may help encourage veterans to tell stories that they otherwise have been uncomfortable to share.
“This gives them the opportunity to tell their stories when they otherwise probably wouldn’t come forward,” she said.
Mayor Christine Frizzell shared the same sentiment.
“We want to make sure that there is always space for the stories that are told,” she said. “It’s my pleasure as someone who is not a veteran to give back in this small way.”
Gary Walderman, director of Lynnwood’s Hero’s Café, commented on the efforts from numerous people in the community who made this sign a reality for Lynnwood.
“It’s not one individual who does this. It’s a team of veterans [coming together],” he said. “And the city is saying thank you to these veterans.”
Although there were technical difficulties regarding the sound system, most of the attendees had smiles on their faces as the new sign was unveiled. Cars honked as they drove by, and people shouted their support through open windows.
“What a pleasure it is to see so many people here to represent our community,” Sessions said. “I wish we had the sound system today. But you know where our hearts are at. Thank you everyone for coming.”
This sign is part of a veterans initiative that was started under former Mayor Nicola Smith and has since grown. Smith said during the event that when she first started the initiative, roughly a dozen veterans were asked to attend and share their thoughts on what the city could do to increase its support. To everyone’s surprise, over 40 people showed up wanting to help make Lynnwood a more veteran-friendly place.
Along with these signs, Lynnwood is taking other steps to make the city more welcoming to veterans.
Walderman hosts a monthly Hero’s Café, where veterans can gather and have coffee, breakfast and find camaraderie with each other. The Café opens at 9 a.m. on the last Tuesday of every month at the New Life Church in Lynnwood.
Lynnwood is also in the process of giving the city’s Veterans Park a long-overdue upgrade, as well as introducing its Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in the fall.
— Story and photos by Lauren Reichenbach