Cleveland High’s Memorial Forest honors classmates who never returned from wars

FALL CITY, Wash. — During World War II, it was pretty common for high schools to hold fundraisers to support the war effort.  And while some school districts raised enough to help build airplanes and tanks, one local high school came up with a unique idea.

Seattle’s Cleveland High School set aside a Memorial Forest, located in Fall City, to honor classmates who never came home from war.

Students raised the money to purchase the 131-acre forest for $300 in the 1940s -- it wasn't much, but it was enough to allow them to turn the forest into a memorial to honor alumni who lost their lives in service.

"It's a little gut-wrenching," said Ron Bowman, class of 1965, who came to honor his friend Kenny, "because I knew them so well. I knew a lot of guys who didn't come back. We like to say 'All gave some; some gave all.' So Kenny gave all."

While the property and memorials have changed over the years, a new monument was installed and dedicated Friday. It replaces three separate plaques that use to hang in the forest -- two of which honored Cleveland High graduates who died in World War II ... and one added in the '70s to honor those kiled in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

What started as a purchase of $300 is now worth about $20 million.

But the meaning behind it remains ... priceless.