Annual Memorial Day Ceremony highlights service and history

By Brandon Gustafson | May 30, 2018
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson At left, Donald Lischman and Ron Fronheiser salute as Ben Holmes raises the American Flag at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Pioneer Cemetery. The three men are all members of VFW Post 2100

Citizens of Mukilteo joined many across the nation on Memorial Day, May 28, in remembering those who have lost their lives while serving in the United States’ Armed Forces.

The Mukilteo Historical Society hosted its annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Pioneer Cemetery, with a flag ceremony by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2100, and speakers Margaret Summitt and Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

Great weather and a beautiful view of the Puget Sound helped attract more than 50 people to the Mukilteo Historical Society-hosted event on Monday morning.

The Mukilteo Presbyterian Church’s MPC Brass performed live music prior to the event, and also performed the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” during the ceremony.

Summitt, from the Historical Society, donned older clothes and got into the character of Mary Fowler, the wife of Jacob D. Fowler, one of the founders of Mukilteo.

She gave some history about some of the people who are buried at Pioneer Cemetery, including those with military experience.

“I was not the first person buried here,” Summit said (in character, as Fowler). “That honor goes to my brother-in-law, Nathaniel Fowler. He was a captain in the 23rd New York Infantry. He fought at Antietam, Maryland, at one of the first battles of the Civil War.”

Summitt also talked about Mortimer Fasset and Soldier McCalsu, who she said is really “McAllister.” She said Fasset, McCalsu and Nathaniel Fowler are the only three military veterans buried in Pioneer Cemetery, noting that not much is known about McCalsu, and they are looking for people who might be related to him.

Summitt has searched for information about the people buried in the cemetery and, together with the Mukilteo Historical Society, published a short book, “Mukilteo Pioneer Cemetery: Honoring our History” that came out in 2016. With the help of a GPS from the city of Mukilteo, they were able to pinpoint the grave locations of those buried in the cemetery, and produce a new, accurate map and guide of the cemetery.

There’s also information about those buried in the cemetery on the city of Mukilteo’s website.

Gregerson talked about why Memorial Day is an important holiday.

“On Memorial Day, we remember the service men and women who sacrificed their time and their lives for their country, who fight and die and who significantly served,” she said. “Our nation chooses this day to mark the sacrifices of service that our veterans have made.”

Gregerson said in preparing to talk at the ceremony, she had an opportunity to reflect on some of her family members who served in the military, including her maternal grandfather who deployed for World War II just weeks after meeting his future wife.

“He was a 22-year-old farm boy getting ready to go overseas. He walked her home and they chatted, and she told him she was 18, but she was really 15 years old,” Gregerson said. “A few weeks later, he left, serving as an Army nurse around the world, including time in Burma.”

He returned home after serving, and the duo started their family.

Gregerson’s paternal grandfather also served during World War II, as a Marine.

“When he was 18, he joined the Marines and travelled to the Far East with other young men,” Gregerson said. “I understood his service after he’d passed, going through photo albums from his time overseas, photos of himself and other Marines in the prime of their lives, following orders, fighting, and serving.”

Gregerson also acknowledged other types of service, such as police and fire staff. She talked about Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang, who serves in the United States Naval Reserve.

VFW Post 2100 members Donald Wischmann, Ron Fronheiser, and Ben Holmes took part in the ceremony by presenting the country’s colors and raising the American Flag at the front of the cemetery.

After the ceremony, many attendees stayed and looked around the cemetery at the various graves and flags.

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