For just the second time since the Covid shutdown, members of the Cottage Grove community gathered on Monday, May 30 at the historic Armory to honor local veterans in a ceremony marking Memorial Day. As in the past, the remembrance was a joint effort by Sgt. Calvin Funk Post 32 of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3473, both of Cottage Grove. In producing these public events for Veterans and Memorial days, the organizations share duties and cooperate closely. The overall leadership alternates with the Legion bottom-lining Memorial Day and the VFW taking the lead on Veterans Day.

Last Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2021, a cautious public gathered to honor those who served, a bit smaller in number than in past years, as a wary public began to emerge from the historic pandemic shutdown.

This year’s gathering featured several of the traditional elements that have marked past Memorial Day ceremonies. A POW/MIA (prisoner of war, missing in action) symbol table was set for one but really representing a table for all. The whole configuration is planned to address the sufferings of both the service personnel and their families. The lemon represents the bitter fate of those involved, the yellow candle with its ribbon the hope they will return, the inverted wine glass that POW/MIAs are prevented from joining us raising a toast. 

Mayor Gowing, a veteran and Legion member, introduced the keynote speaker and pointed out a departure from past guests that tended toward retired military officers. This year featured Brenda Wilson, Executive Director of Lane Council of Governments. Instead of having been in the military, she is a Gold Star Daughter. Her father was killed in action during the Vietnam War while she was just a baby. It was obviously an emotional journey for her as she recounted all the things she missed because of her father’s sacrifice. He was not there to see her play sports, go to law school, attend her wedding, or hold his granddaughter.

A somber reading of veterans that have passed in the ensuing years went on for some time. As each name was read, a bell was rung in honor of the veteran’s service and a red rose placed in a vase to remember their passing. Eight dozen roses were used in marking the huge loss of veterans recently.

Scout troops 140 and 4140, sponsored by the American Legion, presented the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Following the program participants marched down Main Street to place a memorial wreath into the Coast Fork to carry the remembrances of those fallen to the sea.

Please take a moment to remember, for remembering keeps them alive.

If you didn’t get to attend, here is a suggestion for honoring a loved veteran who has passed. This Sunday, June 5, will be the first of a planned summer’s worth of weekly “Community Speakers Corners.” The place to go is the Southeast Corner of Bohemia Park (between the bathrooms and the church) each Sunday, from 10 a.m. until dusk, you can come and have your say. You could call out your veteran’s name and service record, either to whoever happens to be there or just the passing traffic. You can bring a (soap)box or ladder to stand on to elevate your body if not your speech. The only limitation is that the only amplification you can use is your own vibrating vocal chords, no bull horns, megaphones, or P.A.’s. Organizer John Caloia states all are welcome to come and speak on any subject. It is hoped that people will respectfully argue, debate, comment or “otherwise confer with the speaker.” Engagement is welcome, as a general rule, however, unruly behavior is not. So if someone just really needs to publicly vent their spleen, let them have at it till they get it out of their system and say then what you will, “I speak for the trees…”, said some odd-looking furry creature who had brought a stump to stand on. 

The idea of a “Speakers Corner” in Hyde Park, London. This tradition of being able to say whatever you want came at a price. In 1855 riots broke out in that same park over the “Sunday Trading Bill.” This law forbade retail trade on Sundays, the only day the working class had to do their buying and selling. With a 6-day, 65-70-hour work week, and without the vote for the “lower classes”, I could imagine they were ready to have something to say. Karl Marx, George Orwell, Ben Tillett, and Marcus Garvey were known to frequent the area, mostly to listen. I hope you will exercise your freedom of speech so it doesn’t get flabby, Play nice, don’t yell, and share the air. For more information contact organizer John Caloia at 541-942-9508.

This Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. will be gathering at the Cottage Grove Skatepark, Harrison @ Highway 99, for the first of many community conversations about how to make the park more usable, enjoyable, and inclusive, not to mention fun for local youth. 

Improvements won’t happen overnight, it will require a lot of thinking, sharing ideas, listening, finding a designer, and examining lots of possibilities. It will mean taking the dreams and ideas from just expressing them to actually getting to the drawing board. Then, of course, there is the question of how to pay for it all.  

But Saturday is just the beginning. It is planned for all folks who have an interest in the park, skating, riding, scooting, or BMXing to gather, meet, connect, and have some fun. Music, hot dogs, and some idea walls to put your two cents in, and of course riding. A few clean-up projects will also be available.

All wheels are welcome, so whether you roll in the bowl or on the streets, come out, say hey, have a dog, do some tricks or share something you’d like to see in the way of growing the park. Be part of rethinking our park and how it can be better for everybody.  

If you ride at other parks, what do they have that you would really like to see here? If this is seen by any of the folks who are wanting to resurrect the BMX track we would love to connect and see how our dreams intersect. 

Vitally important for a successful project is that the end users, our youth, are included and allowed leadership in the process. The more they have a hand in creating and building whatever comes, the more ownership ensues. If local youth build it they will take care of and protect it.

In taking the first step organizers reached out to local high school Art teacher Erin Royse. She offered the project to several of her classes and a few students took it to heart and we have not one but two locally produced youth flyers advertising the gathering. 

If you have a kiddo or grand who rides, could you let them know about this “Roll the Bowl” day at the Skatepark. You are welcome to come and offer your support as well.

If you are old school, there is a Facebook group that will let you know what’s happening: “Friends of Cottage Grove Skatepark.” In an effort to connect with youth there is also an instagram: instagram.com/cgskatepark/ hopefully it trickles down to snapchat or whatever the latest thing is.

See you Saturday, roll on by!

Yard of the week is back with the first winner located at 520 Holly Ave. Also, notice has been given that possessors of tall grass will be receiving written warnings soon to prepare for fire season. With the cold and wet spring it is hard to imagine that scenario, but it will dry out far too quickly once it does decide to stop raining for a day or two.  

oncerts in the Park are gearing up with the saddle span already installed and The Rockin’ Reveleers, local legends, are primed to kick out the jams to launch this summer of music over at Bohemia Park. Be sure and bring your lawn chair for some great music and community as the Grove gathers in the Park this summer, Wednesday, June 15 with the Reveleers.

 And the Oregon Gran Fondo Bicycle event, after limiting attendance due to Covid, is returning full force this weekend. Look out as over 200 cyclists descend on Cottage Grove on Saturday to attack the surrounding countryside. Downtown will get a little crowded with all the bicyclists, the South Valley Farmers Market, and who knows what all else, more that one body can do in any case.

Have a great weekend and pick some of the many options for things to do in our historic downtown and tourist-friendly countryside. All wheels welcome!

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