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Remembrance at Mountain View Memorial Park

Thousands of veterans are interred in Mountain View Memorial Park. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Many servicemembers change duty stations often enough that "home" stops being where they came from. The places where they grew up or made a life for themselves before joining the military get further and further away, and "home" becomes their last duty station before getting out of the military. Sometimes, "home" is simply where they're put to rest after giving their lives to our country. For many fallen and late service members, "home" becomes Mountain View Memorial Park in Lakewood, Washington.

"Mountain View is a source of community within the community," said Mountain View, Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory General Manager Clarke Thomson. "Thousands of veterans are buried here. We have five different gardens dedicated to the veterans in the area. A lot of times, veterans choose to be buried here because the location is close to home, or it is home for a lot of people. It provides a place of honor for families to lay their loved ones."

Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory has been providing funeral and burial services to service members, their families, and the larger Joint Base Lewis-McChord community for more than 100 years. It opened in 1915 under James Richard Thompson, and served as a simple community cemetery until Thompson's son, J. Arthur Thompson, added a funeral home to the grounds in 1942. Thompson's grandson, Brewer B. Thompson, took over Mountain View in 1956. Under his leadership, Mountain View acquired 80 acres for a memorial park, the staff grew to 68 employees, and a second chapel was built on the site.

In keeping with tradition, the funeral home was passed down to Brewer Thompson's daughter, Cindy Thompson, in 1996, before NorthStar Memorial Group acquired it in 2009. Mountain View covers 160 acres of land. More than 100,000 burials have taken place there, and each year, more than 1,400 families use Mountain View's services. "We try to reach out and help families in every way," said Thomson.

"We get a wide range of military veterans here at Mountain View," Thomson said. "And we have monuments there to recognize different branches of the military."

The Garden of Honor holds monuments to Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander from 1993-1997, and Army Sgt. Llewellyn Chilson, the second-highest decorated enlisted soldier in World War II.

In addition to offering extensive funeral services such as ceremonies, receptions, catering, crematory services, green burials, personalized memorials, and grief support and recovery services, Mountain View holds community events each year. "It's always been important to Mountain View to reach out to the community. We're involved with many different organizations including hospice and the Health Care Providers Council of Pierce County, and we've been supporting the various Rotary clubs for decades. Mountain View also hosts quarterly training for local first responder honor guard teams."

Annual memorial ceremonies at Mountain View include a Joint Services Memorial Day Ceremony every Memorial Day weekend, and Pierce County and Law Enforcement Memorial Services. "We also have a candlelight remembrance service in December," said Thomson. "We invite the community to come out and remember those people in their lives who've been important and who've passed away."

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