MAY 25, 2003!
Tulelake! 400 local veterans and their families!
The sound.... a lone voice in the eerily-silent
building, reading a seemingly eternal
list of names of veterans who fought, and are
fighting for, our freedom Who were they?
They were mostly young boys, in their late teens,
from Merrill, Malin, Tulelake and Butte Valley, who
fought in wars in foreign countries, and
defended attacks on our own soil. WWI,
WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, ..........some never came
back--and some are still fighting. But the freedom of their mothers and
fathers, brothers, wives, friends and children,
was important enough for them to offer their
lives. Here was freedom to voice their opinions,
freedom to farm, freedom to own property, and
freedom to care take our wildlife and natural
resources, freedom to live on and make
independent and productive 'the land of the free
and the home of the brave'.
Who made this day happen?
Cindy Wright, a Klamath Basin
native, is director of the Tulelake Butte-Valley
fair. She grew up in the wide open spaces,
watching the cattle, the farms, the children
thrive in this sweet land of liberty. She
lived to enjoy this community that was built
from nothing but a lake bed--no roads, no power,
no running water.... Her community was
built by mostly veterans who were chosen---drawn
from a pickle jar, to come and develop and farm
land in the north end of the Klamath Basin.
These men and women knew what it was like in
countries that had no freedom. They knew
hard work. Many lived through the
depression...they knew poverty. They knew
hard years, because they came here to live in
tents, shacks, barracks, old trailers...any kind of
shelter, and the winters were cold. But
their country, their families, and their God
were the most important things in the world.
They were not coming for the money, because
there was no money. They were coming for
freedom, the wildlife, a piece of land to
provide food for their beloved country, and a
perfect place to raise a family. This is
where Cindy comes from.
Cindy lived here through the
water cut-off of 2001. She struggled, lost
crops, put in an irrigation well...she and her
husband farm and ranch. She cried.
She lived the pain. And she lived the pain
of these American Heroes who created her
Not only did she put her life
into her community, her farm and her
family....she was up until wee hours of the
night from the very beginning of this KBC
website, 2001. She wrote articles, took
pictures of dying fields and waterfowl, did
interviews. She was truly a founding
(mother?) of KBC. She wanted the world to
know the truth about this injustice to the
veterans and their families.
But more than that, she had
an idea...a thought, of preserving our heritage,
her memories, and the fond memories of those
before us. She took an old museum in
Tulelake, and, like in the poem (the touch of
the Father's hand), she transformed the 'stuff'
into a walk through time. She interviewed
dozens of people from the neighboring areas.
She collected old photos. Military photos.
Military and pioneer stories. Music.
With a great team from the Tulelake fairgrounds,
the new museum was built, and it tells all it
could...even with sounds of the times.
It was missing
something...something that grew into THE WALL.
Which brings us back to
yesterday, May 25, 2003, at the Tulelake
fairgrounds, honoring the great-American heroes,
and introducing--celebrating THE WALL. They are from
Tulelake, Merrill, Malin and Butte Valley--tiny
little towns. Cindy knew those families, those
veterans, their descendants. And now,
their memories can live through time.
People came from all over the
United States to view THE WALL in the museum.
A country band entertained us after the
program, and hors d'oeuvres were catered by Papa
T's, from Malin. Old newspapers were on
the walls for settlers to reminisce.
Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
joined in the occasion. The museum was
open for everyone to enjoy, including the
Japanese barracks decorated to show the homes of
the WWII homesteaders. In the museum, many
watched the film, "Homesteading in a Promised
Land," in which the Tulelake settlers tell the
100-year story of building the community and
living in the Tulelake Basin.
Thank you, every veteran, for
fighting for our "land of the free." You
made it that way for Cindy...for all of us,
our children and grandchildren. We pray
that we have the strength to defend that freedom
as bravely as you did.
And thank you Cindy.
(Due to the high interest in
this project, another wall is being built, so if
the veteran is from Malin, Merrill, Tulelake or
Butte Valley, and is/was a veteran of a foreign
war, you may have the name &/or portrait etched
into polished marble as part of the
Tulelake-Butte Valley Museum of Local History
"Veterans' Wall." Call Cindy at the Fair office,
530-667-5312, for prices and details.)