Memorial Day blog: Great-Uncle Dewey


On the north bank of the Columbia River, not far from Goldendale, there is a strange monument: a replica of Stonehenge, built to represent what the English version might looked like when it was new, with all the stones upright and intact.


It was created by eccentric railroad tycoon Sam Hill (about whom I will tell you some other time), to commemorate the war dead of Klickitat County.



Among whom was my great-uncle Dewey Valley Bromley.



Dewey died in April 1918, only a few months before the end of the war. My grandmother, his sister, wrote that he never set foot in Europe; he died on the troop ship while crossing the Atlantic, presumably of pneumonia, and was buried in France. He was not yet twenty years old.



Imagine: a farm boy born in rural Washington, coughing himself to death on a crowded ship, and buried thousands of miles away from the country he knew. He never even got to fight in the war he’d enlisted for.



And now his name is written on a plaque and affixed to a concrete slab overlooking the grandiose cliffs of the Columbia Gorge.



The whole story makes me ponder furiously on the future of the human race, and what the hell we’re doing here.



Which is probably exactly what we should be thinking about on Memorial Day.



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