Thousands of people attended a memorial service Tuesday to honor the life of slain park ranger Margaret Anderson.
Anderson was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park on New Year’s Day. Her suspected killer, Benjamin Colton Barnes, was a veteran of the war in Iraq and also suspected of shooting four people the previous day in Skyway. He was found dead in a creek at the national park on Jan. 2; he died from drowning and exposure to the cold.
A procession of countless first-responder vehicles departed from Lakewood at 9:30 a.m. and began arriving at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, where the service began at about 1 p.m. in the Olson Auditorium.
The auditorium was filled with first responders and park rangers from across the country and Canada.
Anderson’s husband, Eric, who is also a park ranger, and their two young daughters were also in attendance.
From all corners of the state, men and women who protect and serve came to honor Anderson.
“Among those who knew and loved Margaret, she will be remembered for her warm smile, enduring faith and deep commitment to her family,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the memorial service.
Salazar presented a personal letter of condolences from President Obama to Anderson’s husband.
Margaret Anderson’s father spoke about her childhood and early love of nature. “We lived on 2 acres of land – trees, rocks, streams, pond there that developed her love for the outdoors,” said Pastor Paul Kritsch, her father.
It was a passion that pushed her to join the National Park Service 10 years ago in Utah, at Bryce Canyon National Park, and a career that took her to Maryland and then to Washington state in 2008.
Gunman Benjamin Barnes was driving up Mount Rainier on his way to the Paradise Visitor’s Center when Anderson tried to block his way with her SUV.
“She knew dozens of people were innocently enjoying that beautiful snowy morning,” National Park Director Jonathan Jarvis said. “Ranger Anderson did what she did best, she kept the visitors safe.”
Fellow park Ranger Robert Danno said, “She will always be my hero, in life and death. Rest now, Margaret, there is a special place in heaven for heroes.”
Two memorial funds have been set up to help Margaret Anderson's family -- one is at KeyBank, where donations can be made to the "Margaret Anderson Donation Account" and the other is at the National Park Foundation (www.nationalparks.org/margaretanderson) or click here.
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