A petty act of thievery couldn’t tarnish the memories of 15 Parkland soldiers who died in World War II.
In 2007, thieves ripped a bronze plaque from the agency’s Parkland Transit Center that was first installed six decades prior. It’s inscribed with the names of the 15 soldiers.
The 2-foot-tall, 18-inch-wide plaque eventually found its way back to the agency, but it was in bad shape, according to Pierce Transit spokesman Lind Simonsen. It already needed some touch-ups, as pranksters inscribed their initials and had painted over it since it was first installed. Then, the thieves
had bent it during the un-installation.
Not only had they stolen community property, but they had disregarded the memories of those fallen soldiers.
On Saturday, Pierce Transit will re-install the bronze plaque and rededicate it to recognize the soldiers. State Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, members of the American Legion Post from Parkland, the Parkland Community Association and cadets from the Bethel High School Junior ROTC program are also scheduled to attend.
Simonsen said it’s not just coincidence that the re-dedication will take place on Armed Forces Day.
“We just didn’t want to repair it and put it back,” he said. “It’s not just being put up. It’s being given its due respect.”
The plaque is a story in itself. It’s located on property that belonged to the Franklin Pierce School District in 1948. It was mounted on a set of tennis courts enclosed by fencing.
Pierce Transit bought the property about 25 years ago and eventually built its Parkland Transit Center. The plaque remained, however, mounted between two tall trees, Simonsen said.
The thieves struck in September 2007, a period of rampant copper and bronze theft throughout Pierce County.
They eventually sold the material to a metal recycling yard.
After the sale, the owner immediately suspected the plaque might be hot, according to Simonsen, and called Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway. Workers there recognized the plaque and called Pierce Transit.
Agency workers — some of whom were members of the military themselves — repaired the plaque and were mounting it to its original resting place Friday. It’s still heavy but looks like new.
“In Honor And In Memory of Parkland Men Who Gave Their Lives In The Service Of Their County – World War II,” the inscription reads.
Officials hope residents turn out this Armed Forces Day to honor the memory of 15 soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice — and endured a petty act of thievery.
WHAT: Re-dedication of stolen WWII plaque
WHEN: 10 a.m., Saturday
WHERE: Pierce Transit Parkland Transit Center, 213 S. 121st St. (1/2 block west of Pacific Avenue in Parkland)