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Town Square Park is now “Veterans Memorial Park.”

The official name change took place at the May 18 meeting of the Salmon City Council after presentations by Fred and Sue Waidely plus comments from local representatives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5840, the American Legion and Viet Nam Vets of America.

Sue Waidely spoke of the importance of creating a special place in the city in remembrance and appreciation of the men and women who have contributed so much towards securing the freedoms in this county, state and nation. She said a memorial park would also be a reminder and thank you to those now serving in the armed forces.

Retired US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Fred Waidely and member of all three local veteran’s organizations said he has discussed the memorial with the VFW, the American Legion and the Viet Nam Veterans of America and has found unanimous support. A three phase plan has been developed, the first phase being the park’s name change.

Town Square Park just sort of became known by that title without benefit of any official designation. The original Cavaness Park was named after the family who donated the land however according to Mayor Leo Marshall family members have expressed no desire to have the name retained.

Waidely said Phase II of the plan will be to solicit designs and funding. To reach a goal of making the park a true community-wide effort of recognition, local organizations such as the Eagles, the Elks and Rotary will be contacted along with businesses. Schools and groups involved in youth activities will be especially encouraged to participate. Final designs and plans will be submitted to the City Council for approval.

Phase III as outlined by Waidely will be the actual construction of the Veterans Memorial Park which he said will require no financial outlay from the city or future maintenance obligations beyond what is being performed now.

Others in attendance and in support of changing the park’s name to “Veterans Memorial Park” included five members of the local Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, a combat support group comprised of veterans of the Viet Nam War. Lloyd Tutor is a member of the ‘motorcycle gang’ and said the family oriented club is a branch of the Idaho Falls organization. He said the group’s common goal is to raise money for veterans’ homes. He said the local Viet Nam Vets favored the name “Veterans Memorial Park” over a park name with reference to Salmon or Lemhi County because the park will be open to all veterans everywhere.

US Navy and Viet Nam War veteran James Earl is VFW Quartermaster of Post 5840 and added his support for the park’s name change. He said the post membership, including the VFW Auxiliary; all favored the ‘Veterans Memorial Park’ name over others suggested. Earl is also a member of the American Legion and he said they too favored Veterans Memorial Park and offered support in the form of finances and labor.

Viet Nam Veteran Rick Rice spoke in support of the name “Veteran’s Memorial Park” because, “…it represents us all.” He said, “I believe that when people come in they’re going to see that bear and then they’re going to see the [Veterans Memorial Park] sign. That’s representing Salmon…who and what we really are.”

Rick Bidwell is Commander of the VFW Post and a Viet Nam combat veteran. He said he well remembers the far-less-than-warm welcome extended to Viet Nam War veterans upon their return. He believes that to make a memorial to veterans part of a community is healing for the veterans and provides a special gathering place for their families. Bidwell thanked the City Council for its consideration.

Waidely commented that unless a person has actually experienced combat there is no way to know how such an experience can affect the rest of that person’s life. He said when a veteran sees a memorial to veterans it is taken as a personal honor, which carries with it a good feeling.

The council vote to rename the park “Veterans Memorial Park” was unanimous.

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