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JBLM makes plans to celebrate centennial

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:37PM January 21st, 2016

Joint Base Lewis-McChord prepares to turn 100 years old next year, commemorating the first Soldiers that came to Camp Lewis in 1917. Basewide, JBLM is planning numerous birthday events to mark the installation’s centennial in 2017 to memorialize and celebrate the beginning of Camp Lewis and its history.

“We want to increase awareness and participation of the centennial and the installation’s rich history,” said Maj. Shawn Boyer, lead planner for the base’s centennial. “We want to strengthen our community partnerships and celebrate the base’s centennial through series of upcoming events and resources open to the JBLM family and our community partners.”

To celebrate the contributions of the community and the beginning of JBLM in September of 1917, JBLM leadership and community partners are working on creating a new website called: “MyJBLM.com.” Once it’s up and ready, the website will be accessible to the public and service members stationed at JBLM and will provide a platform for learning about JBLM’s history and upcoming centennial events.

“One of the things we want to do with the website is post significant historical events online and allow service members who have been stationed here to tell their story,” said Erik Flint, Lewis Army Museum director. “The point is to keep it going so it becomes a running historical community outreach site.”

“My JBLM” is expected to launch this March. In addition to the website launch, the base is in the planning phases of creating future centennial events that will take place with regular annual events hosted at

JBLM.

“We are going to make up story boards showing the timeline of JBLM’s history and are hoping to premiere the beginning of these events at this year’s Freedom Fest,” Boyer said. “We are going to try to incorporate events into festivals already planned, but the true original event will be at the centennial gala.”

Because of the installation’s many historical sites, base leadership is also considering upcoming walking and bike tours that will highlight some of the historical sites dating as far back as 1917.

“The big thing is to get the local community enthusiastic about the base’s history and strengthen local partnerships,” Boyer said. “If we can strengthen the bonds between the military units and the local community, the better we’ll become as an installation and as one community.”

This year, the Lewis Army Museum is working on construction projects to become more easily accessible to the community and will unveil all new interactive exhibits.

“We are going to essentially have a brand new venue allowing visitors to interact with history of the base,” Flint said. “We are excited about all that’s going on and being able to showcase the rich history of JBLM.”

Of all the events scheduled to take place leading up to JBLM’s centennial, the largest is planned to take place in September celebrating the arrival of the first troops to Camp Lewis Sept. 1, 1917.

“The timing of the centennial brings some eyes back to JBLM showing our rich history in the concept of the U.S. and the Pacific Northwest,” Boyer said. “There is a lot of rich history involved with this base and we want to focus on the foundation of it.”

Now a beacon of military strength and community partnership, JBLM was established through the generous contributions of the local community. In January of 1917, the Pierce County Electorate voted to bond themselves for $2 million to purchase 70,000 acres to be donated to the federal government that led to the building of Camp Lewis.

“We are celebrating something really big that includes our 100-year anniversary and our tie to the community through the land they donated and the many contributions and support throughout the past 100 years,” Flint said. “The community helped create Camp Lewis and we want to show the community that they are the reason that we are here.”