Down a twisting road on the east side of Gig Harbor is the resting place for veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. On Sunday, flags will be placed on all their graves at the old Gig Harbor Cemetery.
The Daughters of the American Revolution’s Elizabeth Forey Chapter will host a special meeting at the graveyard as part of the DAR’s Service Day. It’s a special service day this year as the DAR nationwide marks its 125th anniversary.
“We just want to celebrate by doing something to show our respect and honor for veterans,” said DAR member Melinda Wagner.
In addition to cleaning up the graveyard and sweeping off the gravestones, Wagner will perform a re-enactment of Lucy Goodman for the chapter.
Goodman taught in Gig Harbor for a record-setting 76 years. The Peninsula School District’s Goodman Middle School bears her name; a picture of her hangs inside the school. When she retired, for the second time, she was 93 years old. She died in 1964 and is buried at the old Gig Harbor Cemetery.
Wagner, who will dress as Goodman, is a former teacher herself. She’s now the historian for the local DAR chapter.
Kathy Veasey, DAR chapter secretary, said she attended a Harbor History Museum event that included re-enactors and felt something similar would be good for the meeting.
“We just thought we would incorporate a re-enactment of (Goodman),” Veasey said.
In addition to veterans of historic wars, the cemetery is home to many old Gig Harbor families, Veasey said.
Borgan. Peacock. Burnham. The namesakes of many of Gig Harbor’s streets are buried in the cemetery.
“The old pioneers are buried here,” said Parrish.
This year’s service day is a big milestone for the organization. Although founded in the late 1800s, it is increasing in size. The DAR nationwide is growing in membership.
“It’s going gangbusters and I think it’s because the society recognizes education, patriotism, American history, veterans and conservation,” said chapter region Muriel Parrish. In the DAR, a region functions as a president.
Wagner said she enjoys being in the DAR because she’s made many friends.
“It’s a fun way to meet people, and I’m really patriotic,” she said.
In order to join the DAR, members must prove lineage back to 1776, the Revolutionary War. Wagner has an ancestor named Israel Keyes who fought in the war. Her aunt also joined the DAR through Keyes.
Parrish has multiple ancestors who fought in the war: One whom marched at Lexington and another who signed the Wilderness Compact while living in what became Tennessee.
Deeply rooted in history, the members spend time learning even more about their ancestors and their country.
“I think it’s a really good way to learn about what the United States stands for,” said Wagner.