Building Community Brick by Brick

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American Legion, Post 124 and immigrants from the former Soviet Union first became acquainted in 2004. The Beaverton Veterans Memorial Park (the Park), administered by Post 124 and the Beaverton Veterans Memorial Management Corporation (BVMMC), has provided space for honoring all veterans with memorial bricks since 1999. These terra cotta memorials are literally a brick with a deceased veterans name on it, preserving their names and place in history by being placed on low walls with many other heroes around the main memorial in the Park. The immigrants from the former Soviet Union, encompassing a very diverse group of nationalities and languages, arranged for installation of two bricks initially. Word got around that this opportunity existed. There are now about 60 bricks from the families of the Soviet Unions soldiers, among a total of 1,265 bricks honoring all the veterans who have fought and died for our freedom and security.

This diverse group of citizens has also embraced the specifically American memorials and celebrations of our wartime heroes, including the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances, provided by Post 124 and the BVMMC. However, last year an opportunity came up to honor the 70th anniversary of Victory Europe (VE) Day. While not a traditional American observance, it seemed a very good fit with the Memorial Day observance. The United States Army met the Russian Army at the Elbe River in Germany in May 1945, sealing the victory over Nazi Germany. VE Day 2015 served to further strengthen the bonds between Post 124 and the people of the former Soviet Union.  It was also appropriate to provide a place for a related day of remembrance as celebrated by our World War II Allies. The Beaverton Memorial Park is dedicated to all veterans. 

Post 124 and the BVMMC are glad that we could provide a place to honor this historic occasion that means so much to both the veterans of the Russian Army and the United States Armed Services, and their families and descendants. At the ceremony there were surviving World War II vets present from both countries that gave so much for world freedom by defeating Nazi Germany.

If that were the whole story it would be significant, but it is not the whole story. The citizens and families of this immigrant community honored members of Post 124 with an invitation to attend additional ceremonies and the relationship was further cemented.

Thanks to orders for two memorial bricks we are now a single community. Like neighbors, we have become familiar with each other; together we have laid bricks creating a foundation for a common future.

Families of the former Soviet Union have taken the opportunity to memorialize their veterans, through the dedication of memorial bricks at the Park. With new space for bricks being created, there will be room for yet additional memorial bricks. (A donation of $75 is suggested for etching and placing the bricks.) Additionally, these citizens have paid for and dedicated a new memorial park bench in an area of the park well suited to viewing the main memorial and the memorial brick walls.

Post 124 and the BVMMC are proud to work with the former Red Army heroes and their families to make the Park their place to honor their veterans along side U.S. Veterans. As neighbors, friends and allies we share a place to remember and honor our loved ones who gave their lives in the name of freedom. Together we are building community, may it last forever and those heroes names never be forgotten.  

Steven Gerber

Commander

American Legion

Post 124, Beaverton, Oregon

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