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100th Oregonian soldier dies in War on Terror

June 19, 2007

The Oregonian today is calling it a grim milestone: 100 Oregon families are dealing with the death of a loved one in an unjust war.

Steve Duin, in an editorial published during the Rose Festival, wondered whether the 100th soldier would die before the end of the celebration. Such a sad wonder – the knowing, the assuming, the anticipation of death. And here it is, just a couple days after the festival’s end.

At the Grand Floral Parade this year, princesses who were crowned during WWII had the first opportunity to be in the parade. These “war princesses” didn’t have a parade from 1941-1945:

The parade passed them by, 60-odd years ago.

Jean Vuksich. Janis Krebs. Shirley Cason. Pat Lundstrom. Shirley Strong. Barbara McClary. Phyllis Huwa. Faye McGrath. JoAnne Loeb. Frances Bennett. Sylvia Williams. Joan Curley.

Rose Festival princesses all, they deserved the cavalcade, but the timing was all wrong. The world was focused on Midway and Stalingrad, Malta and Iwo Jima, Utah Beach and Bergen-Belsen. Grand Floral Parades and other large gatherings were banned, which was just as well.

No one was in the mood to celebrate. Soldiers were dying.

There was a war on.

A couple Saturdays ago, they had their chance. Only there is yet another war going on, only this one is much more silent.

There’s a good reason the parade route was closed from 1942 through 1945. “There were too many people involved in the war to ignore it,” said peace activist Bonnie Tinker. “We were busy building warships, not docking them at the waterfront as a form of entertainment.”

And there’s an equally compelling explanation for why the Grand Floral will roll on Saturday, with a special section for uniformed members of the Greatest Generation:

The war is off our radar screens. Most of them, anyway.But it’s clear the casualties mount and the Iraq war continues because so few of us have sacrificed even a moment of sleep to it.

Lance Cpl. Adam Emul. Pfc. Brian Browning. Sgt. Long Nguyen. Lance Cpl. Nathan Windsor. Sgt. 1st Class John Stephens. Sgt. Nicholas Lightner. Spc. Jason Shaffer. Pvt. Brett Walton. Sgt. Michael Vaughan. Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson. Sgt. Michael Frank. Cpl. Julian Woodall.

Ninety-nine families, absent from the parade, many wondering if the region’s 100th soldier will fall before the Rose Festival’s Centennial Celebration is laid to rest.

There is nothing special about being the 100th soldier to die in Iraq or Afghanistan from Oregon – he’s just as honorable as the 37th or the 86th or the 1st. But the untimely death of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Dale Henderson from Hillsboro marks a sad day, a grim milestone indeed. May your friends and family find peace.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    February 25, 2013 9:24 am

    I just read this article for the first time, years after this parade happened, and that’s my Grandma – Shirley Cason. These days she isn’t doing well. Advanced stages of dementia have claimed her beautiful mind.

    I was at this parade. It was breathtaking, and it was so amazing that she was able to have her parade after all these years. It meant so much to her.

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