Recently King County Offended and angered the people of the small town of Preston by removing a roadside memorial that has existed for years on a stretch of a small two lane extention of a highway managed by King County which in that place has a speed limit of 25mph. The county claimed one person called and complained and a self important county roads employee promptly removed the patriotic memorial display. Safety was the excuse, yet people have safely driven past this spot for more than 18 years without calamity. Was this just a politically correct reaction to some politically correct passer by? Or does this reflect a desire to homogenize all towns into a County ideal of communities?
This action of the county and the reaction of the People of Preston, who immediately rebuilt the memorial has gained national media attention on sources like Fox, Brietbart, the Blaze, and numerous independant internet media. An appology or sorts was forthcoming from King County:
Let me tell you the story of Preston, Washington. The people who live in Preston love their town, I will not call it a community, that is just a word used to scrub all character from a town. Preston has character! This town began as a mill town, a place where trees were turned into productive uses for things like homes, furniture, and workshops. The men who provided the logs and the men who milled them were a tough group and were proud of their work, homes they built, and their families. Most of these men came from Sweden or Swedish heritage, some of their children and their children's children still live in this close knit town where, if you pay enough attention, you realize is a loving, special place where neighborliness is of great importance. I have come to know the people who live in this town, listened to their stories and learned from their generous spirit. People who frolicked, worked, and worshipped God in this town and are now in their late 90s, their younger friends who are in their 80s and their children, and their children, and now their children's children. The stories they tell are fun, insightful, and tell much about lives built around family and neighbors. An American Culture built by hard working and sometimes hard playing Swedish immigrants. Yes, they are proud of thier culture, their VASA hall, the many memories that permeate the atmosphere there of Christmas celebrations, parties, weddings, and memorials. For years this has been the hub of Preston, the place where life is shared. I dare say they are proud of being American! The church they built and still attend stands today, an active reminder of Christain character, where the bells still toll twice a day, noon and dinner time. Heritage, tradition, centered.
If you move to Preston and don't know how to be neighborly, there are plenty of people to teach you! I have lived in this town for 17 years and have come to appreciate the heritage and ethos of Preston. Love thy neighbor, but don't interfere with who he is. Help your neighbor, be friendly, and caring. And when time comes, defend your neighbor. That is what happened when King County decided to dismantle a long standing roadside memorial. The people of Preston objected and restructured their memorial. It is part of who they are. This memorial is a part of this town, where people are important and it is a comfort to remember and to thank those who have served. This is not a roadside distraction, this is a roadside comfort! A reminder that yes, we are Americans! My children spent much of their growing years here, I like to think they gained a good part of their strength in character by growing up in such a town of good Americans.
I asked one of my neighbors what he knows of the memorial because I have only lived here for 17 years. The memorial became more noticeable after 09/11/2001, that day Americans will never forget. But it had been there long before. A family of Preston, the kind of Americans that can be referred to as good people, began that memorial to Veterans of the United States. These good people of Preston served their country well, the father a veteran of Viet Nam, who later served as a Seattle police officer. The mother was a nurse. These caring people had their own family and took on and cared for many, many foster children over the years. Yes, they were good people fondly remembered and respected. Another family began to care for the memorial after these good people passed and their children moved to other places. That is the kind of thing a person of Preston would do. Without a meeting, without being told to, or even asking to, just doing what is a right and good thing, carrying on a tradition that was begun by good Preston Americans.
Over the years there have been times we have had to take special notice of and special comfort from those who serve us in the United States Service. It is good to have a place like Preston, a town where neighbors care for and about one another, where they are proud to be Americans. A place where good people are remembered and they are thanked. A town where the people would independantly appreciate, create, and care for a memorial for so many years.
Government, and King County in particular should come to understand taking down this memorial will not change Preston or the people who have given Preston its character. The memorial immediately sprung up in its place, brighter and more beautiful than ever before! It is doubtful the memorial will go away, it is much a part of Preston. Other county transgressions, and there have been many, are bothersome, but independant people can get by that, work around it. But the the characteristic spirit of a culture as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations, the who and what they are, the people of Preston, that is not diminshed or negotiable. It cannot change over the complaint of one person, or the whims of a county employee. If the goal is to force conformity, it has failed. Preston is not a community, it is rightly a proud little town. They can't be shushed, they never shouted out, they did not demand, or tell others what could or could not be said, how to think, or what to do; they simply made use of their free speech in a simple, humble neighborhood way.
By Cindy Alia
August 2, 2017