The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Isabel Rodriguez
For The Sentinel 

Restored to shining glory

 

Isabel Rodriguez

A STUDY IN STONE: The Pioneer Rock & Monument company just completed a restoration of the Klickitat County War Memorial at Stonehenge. Top, how it looks today after restoration was completed.

A person cannot help but spend a considerable amount of time taking in the distinctive array of dedications and memorials in and outside of Pioneer Rock & Monument LLC. For over 32 years this local family-run company has provided their unique contribution of stonework to the local community. Twenty-five years ago, Pioneer completed the Klickitat County War Memorial Monument, at the other end of the Stonehenge area. And it has just completed a restoration of the monument, making the engravings fresh and alive again.

Upon viewing the stone monuments the Rising family has created, it's not hard to see the passion behind the stone work and the compassion that surely must come with this very personal time-consuming task. With a commitment to ensure a respectful memorial, this family's stonework has grown into a legacy that has been exposed from the remoteness of a most particular place-Goldendale. Goldendale has been in the headlines numerous times for the notable Stonehenge rock monument.

Stonehenge was an idea come to fruition to memorialize Klickitat County veterans for their services. Dedicated on July 4, 1918, it was the first monument in the United States to honor the dead of World War I and was commissioned by Sam Hill, a true visionary who was able to see it rededicated on May 30, 1929, before his passing in 1931. Since then, aside from the hundreds of visitors it receives each year, the monument has sat alone atop its hillside overlooking the grandeur of the Columbia River. With the increase in deaths from wars after World War I that included Klickitat County residents, a second memorial was commissioned.

That project was commissioned by and through the development of the Klickitat County Veterans Association (KCVA) led by local resident and retired veteran, John Miller. Miller set about the task before him, and in the first meeting held by the KCVA he was able to collect over half of the money needed to see this project through. "I told people to bring their checkbooks, and we walked away with over $20,000-but we needed $35, 000," states Miller. The initial meeting was a great success, and many more community members would participate and commit their time and skill to this memorial project. The Rising family in particular would be given a chance to offer their local touch.

The Rising family was already well known for providing their distinctive touch on their community, so in 1995 when the discussion began between the Maryhill Museum of Art and the Klickitat County Veterans Association for a second memorial monument at the Stonehenge location site, the Rising family offered their assistance. With the contributing artistic insight from artist Lloyd Schwabauer, Bob Rising and his son Ben set to work. They had to create a memorial that would include the soldiers of Klickitat County who died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan and this was literally and figuratively a monumental task. The granite that was used, with a total weight of 30,000 pounds, was shipped from the Dakotas. The Risings found themselves with the initial challenge of getting the rock to its final resting place across from the Stonehenge Monument. The Goldendale Aluminum Company (no longer open) stepped in. "They brought in their cranes. We could not have done it without them," states Kris Rising.

The details of working with rock are intricate, time-consuming, and sweat-producing masterpieces. After leaving the area for some time, Ben returned, and, as his mom Kris shares, "He went right back into it. He has an eye for it. Carving rocks was a part of our family. You don't often have children who want to continue with the family business, who have the same vision as their parents."

Contributed

work begins on the engraving 25 years ago.

This monumental project was completed successfully through community collaboration and vision. When you visit the Stonehenge site today, it helps to remember it is not alone. It has a second monumental memorial for our Klickitat County fallen Veterans. The contributions of life given by local fallen soldiers are beyond words. It is left for a community to come together to find a way to honor their life-a feat welcomed by Klickitat County residents.

As the plaque states, "THIS MEMORIAL IS BUILT TO REMIND GENERATIONS TO COME OF THE PRICE PAID FOR THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY AND FREEDOM. IT IS DEDICATED TO THE SOLDIERS, MARINES, SAILORS, AIRMEN, AND COAST GUARDSMEN OF Klickitat County WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE OF THEIR LIVES AND TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED IN OUR COUNTRY'S MILITARY."

 

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