ROTC cadets adorn veterans' graves with 2,000 roses
Seattle University Army ROTC cadets placed 2,000 roses on tombstones at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park on Saturday.
By Sanjay Bhatt
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Cadet Dandia Johnson, front, and Cadet Anthony Nguyen put roses on veterans' graves Saturday at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park.
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ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Two thousand veterans' grave markers at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park received donated roses Saturday morning.
Army cadet Johnny Roth gently placed a rose on top of each tombstone he passed Saturday in Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seattle, walking several rows before he was out of flowers.
Standing in a black raincoat off the field, Steve Dewalt smiled. Hymns from the aging chimes tower played loudly and sure under temporarily blue skies.
Dewalt, who volunteers for a foundation that donated about 2,000 roses, watched Roth and 21 other Seattle University Army ROTC cadets place the flowers on tombstones at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park.
The night before, the reddish-orange roses were center stage at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, decorating pianos at the Ten Grands concert, a major fundraiser for Portland-based Snowman Foundation.
Every year the foundation, which raises money for music education in Oregon and Washington, donates the concert's roses to hospitals and nonprofits.
This year the foundation chose to donate the flowers to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery and asked volunteers from Seattle University's Army ROTC to place them on the graves.
Twenty-two cadets volunteered, said Lt. Col. Eric Farquharson, a military-science professor at the university.
"Every single tombstone has a story behind it," he said. "They're not going to know the stories, but respect is very important."
Roth, a junior from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is fifth-generation Army, his family's military service stretching back to World War I.
Saturday was his first time visiting the cemetery.
Founded in 1927, the cemetery is the final resting place for about 5,000 veterans, including some who fought in the Spanish-American War.
"It's pretty humbling," Roth said, as he walked along a row, clutching roses.
Cadet Jennifer Davidson, of Graham, also was making her first visit to the cemetery. Her brother, Christopher, is in the Army Reserves, she said, and voluntarily deployed to Afghanistan three weeks ago.
"I can appreciate sacrifice," she said.
So can Dewalt, 63, a Bellevue financial adviser. He wears hearing aids today — partly the result of his service in the Vietnam War on a destroyer with loud guns.
Dewalt said he couldn't be happier to see the roses decorate pianos at the Ten Grands concert and now tombstones at Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The roses, he said, represent "all that's good."
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or firstname.lastname@example.org