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5cea2c8eab7ca.imageThe World War I-era French Gratitude Train sits in an enclosed area at Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima. 

It Happened Here: Veterans monuments installed at Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima, WA

By Donald W. Meyers
via the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper (WA) web site

“The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance.”

— Herman Wouk

As people in Yakima honored the nation’s and area’s war dead this Memorial Day, one of the places they went is Sarg Hubbard Park.

There, at the end of the park’s main drive, are monuments to several of the nation’s 20th- and 21st century wars.

“Right there, in that one spot, in a 270-degree arc you can see memorials to World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the desert wars,” said Al Brown, former executive director of the Yakima Greenway Foundation, which oversees the park.

The first of the memorials, a boxcar from the French Mercí Train, was dedicated in 1990, where it stands as a reminder of World War II and America’s efforts to help rebuild Europe after the war. In response to the Friendship Train donations of food and clothing to Europe, the people of France responded with a 49-car train containing a variety of gifts for Americans, ranging from a carriage used by King Louis XV to tree seedlings.

The cars were known as “40 and 8s,” for the signs on their side indicating their capacity — 40 men or eight horses. In World War I, American Doughboys were ferried to the front lines in such box cars.

After their arrival by ship in February 1949, the French gratitude cars were distributed to each state, with the District of Columbia and the then-Territory of Hawaii sharing one. Washington’s arrived later that month in Seattle and was eventually moved to Olympia, where it languished near the state Capitol until a member of the Yakima County chapter of the Society of 40 and 8 veterans group spotted the moss-covered, vandalized relic in the 1970s.

With help from local businesses and then-U.S. Rep. Sid Morrison, the 40 and 8 veterans group moved the car to Yakima where it was restored and put on display at Sarg Hubbard Park in a covered pavilion.

The car, which has had a few touch-ups since then, bears the crests of each of the French provinces. Its care was recently turned over to the Greenway Foundation, as the veterans group became too small to manage it.

Read the entire article on the Yakima Herald-Republic web site.

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