Historic Road of Remembrance to be Honored

Local jurisdictions and community members are invited on Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, to an event celebrating a local historic road and the fallen soldiers of World War I which it honors. The event, to be held at Sunnydale School Auditorium located at 15631 8th Avenue South in Burien, will highlight the history of Des Moines Memorial Drive.

Des Moines Memorial Drive is an eight-mile stretch of road, which winds through four local jurisdictions – the Boulevard Park area of unincorporated King County, SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines. In 1922 the project was completed with the planting of 1,100 American elm trees to line the roadway as a "living" memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I. Over time, the impacts of disease, radical pruning and utility installations have decimated most of the elms.

Held on the day formerly known as Armistice Day, the event will mark the beginning of a process to seek designation of the road as a Federal Scenic Byway. Elected officials including County Executive Ron Sims and local mayors will celebrate the recent improvements to Des Moines Memorial Drive, including memorial markers and interpretive elements in a segment of the Drive maintained by King County between South 99th Street and South 128th Street.

An Advisory Committee was created in 2000 with representation from King County, local cities, other interested public agencies, and concerned citizens to develop a coordinated vision for restoring and maintaining the living memorial. The resulting plan, which has been accepted by all the participating jurisdictions, outlines how the local cities can also incorporate similar memorial elements in their future road improvement projects along the Drive.

Des Moines Memorial Drive has national significance on several accounts: 1) it is the earliest planned “living road of remembrance;” 2) it is the only “living road of remembrance” that uses Elm trees; and 3) at 10 miles, it is the longest “living road of remembrance”.

In addition to the celebratory event, commemorative banners will be installed on a number of utility poles along the Drive, and interpretive displays prepared by Highline Historical Society will be available to the public. Local veterans and school groups are expected to take part in the event that will also recognize the ongoing cooperative efforts of the cities and county.

The event will begin at 2:30pm at the Des Moines Memorial Drive Memorial Wall, located on the east side of historic Sunnydale School. The Memorial Wall was dedicated 43 years ago on November 11, 1963.

To learn more about Des Moines Memorial Drive, visit www.roadofremembrance.org.