Memorial Day 2024 … Bravo Zulu Bonners Ferry!

Memorial Day 2024

By Mike Weland

“I invite you to look around at the grave and memorial sites bearing American flags here today,” newly elected Americal Legion Post Commander Joe Knight told those gathered to remember our fallen Monday at Grandview Cemetery. “We stand upon the resting places of men like World War I Distinguished Service Cross recipient Army Sergeant Arthur Zimmerman.

“Art received The United States’ second highest award for valor in combat while serving with Company D, 361st Regiment, 91st Infantry Division. On October 3, 1918, at Genes, France, Sergeant Zimmerman’s unit found themselves in heavy combat … with Zimmerman himself helping many wounded off the battlefield … including his commanding officer. A week later, on October 9th, Sergeant Zimmerman was shot in the neck and shoulder in Epion Ville, France. He remained in French and US hospitals for the remainder of the war before returning here, to Bonners Ferry, to become a founding member of American Legion Post 55.

“Also the memorial site of a more recent hero, Army Sergeant Joshua John Kirk, one of eight Servicemen killed in action in 2009 at the Battle of Kamdesh when a force of 300 Taliban attacked his outpost with over 150 of the enemy dying in the assault. This ill-fated battle eventually came to be depicted in the 2019 film, “The Outpost.” Joshua had spent the vast majority of his youth here in Bonners Ferry before moving back to his birth state of Maine, where he enlisted in the Army.”

Bravo Zulu, Commander Joseph Knight!

Elected Commander less than a year after joining the American Legion and just days before Post 55’s most solemn and complex operation of the year, he brought out a new vitality long sought, a younger veteran, willing to serve, vanguard of a new generation to take the baton from the old veterans, whose numbers diminish more with each passing year.

And yet they persevere to carry on the legacy of the heroes who’ve gone before, to keep alive the hopes and aspirations of the heroes who’ve served and returned, giving so much to our communities.

Despite having run far longer and harder than they ever anticipated, they are living up to the pledge to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in all wars for the heroes growing up among us and the heroes yet to come who will answer the call of our nation in her next hour of need.

And before closing, Knight reminded us of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the kickoff of summer for many. The last day of a three day weekend.

He told of Lou Conter, who passed away April 1, at age 102 the last survivor of the USS Arizona.

“We’re not the heroes,” Conter said. “The 1,177 who went down with the ship are the heroes. You have to remember we got to go home, get married, have children and grandchildren, and we’ve lived a good life. Those who didn’t get to do that should be called the heroes.”

Boundary County veterans who answered the call and lived to come home and answer the call of their families and their communities.

The day started off not on the last Monday in May, the official Memorial Day, but days earlier, and Knight extends a Bravo Zulu to the “good crew” of members who have his back, most all of them veterans of Boundary County Memorial Day remembrances stretching back decades.

Junior Vice Commander Bobby Rains is one of that crew, and he signals Bravo Zulu to the many who pitched in with members of American Legion Post 55, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3622 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 28 Friday afternoon and evening to tidy the graves of over 800 veterans who shall forever lie in the embrace of Boundary County.

In the maritime services of many nations (Navy, Marines and Coast Guard in the U.S.), the signal “BZ,” phonetically pronounced “Bravo Zulu,” carries a traditional but unofficial meaning; “good job,” be it conveyed by semaphore flags, signal lamp or voice. On its own, a Bravo flag means “I am taking in, discharging, or carrying dangerous cargo.” A Zulu flag on its own means “I require a tug.” Only when the Bravo and Zulu flag are hoisted together is a “job well done” being communicated.


Bravo Zulu to Si Thompson and Tiffani Beggerly, who led and supervised members of Scouts BSA Troop 114G (all girls troop), Scouts BSA Troop 114B (all boys troop), and Cub Scouts pack 114, to Kelly Hinthorn and members of her Bonners Ferry Middle School leadership group and to Marie Garrett and her 4H members.

And one more round to veterans Ken Irons, U.S.Army and Korean War, Jon-Paul Mickle, United States Air Force, Retired, and his wife Jennifer, Dr. Mark Barker, U.S. Army, and Craig Kelson, Idaho Army National Guard.

You can’t forget the parade or the crowd that filled downtown to near bursting, kids with hauls of candy to rival Halloween! It was a joy to behold, young or old, or the free meal for veterans at the fairgrounds after the remembrances — by all accounts, it was incredible, meriting flashing Bravo Zulus to everyone aboard who helped cater and serve!