A Message from the President

We are well into the planning for our 2019 Spokane Lilac Festival Year. Many of your Vice
Presidents are already busy with their areas – here is a little recap of activity from your
Executive Committee this Fall.
Past President and Membership VP, Nancy Cole, has been in a flurry hosting information nights
for potential new volunteers and directors! We have 6 new Directors already this year – more
than we have had in years! And all are great additions to the organization. Can’t wait for you to
meet them all.
Royalty VP’s Cecelia Stephens and Clare Patton have been busy hosting Royalty candidate
information events for our Royal Court. A record 73 girls signed in to the events giving us 21
potential schools for Royalty Candidates this year! That is so exciting! Can’t wait until selection
begins in January.
Financial Development VP – Mike Cressey has been busy going around to sponsors with plaques
thanking them for their contributions last year and meeting with new sponsors for our coming
2019 year. Between he and Marilyn Thordason, we are really making headway with our
sponsorship program. We are seeing more dollars and new sponsors – so that is going great!
Military and Community VP – Alan Hart has been hitting a multitude of community and military
events from the GSI annual meeting to both the Air Force and Navy military Balls. He is a part of
Forward Fairchild and has a great relationship with many of our top community leaders
ensuring Lilac stays top of mind in city and military planning.
Merchandising VP – Karen Montague has had a big job this Fall as pins were ordered early! It is
exciting to have pins in hand before the holidays! Also exciting to Merchandising is our new
Merchandising Trailer. Karen and her husband are outfitting it for next year’s parade. How
exciting to have a new trailer and a big thank you to the Montagues for keeping it at their home
to keep it safe!
Parade VP and Chair – Dan VerHeul and Jamie Dedmon have the Parade application out
already! Trying to get a start on things early this year, the application is even better than last
year as it allows registrants to pay at the time they submit! A huge time saver for all!
Float VP – Mike Moore hosted our first float work day and we are prepared to start stripping
the old chassie to make this year’s float! That next work day is Dec 8 th and if you have not been
to the float barn yet – it is a blast! Join us for old float demolition day!
Hosting VP’s Angela Wray and Toni Ernst have already started the planning of the many events
for the coming year. They did a fabulous job at our very well attended installation event and
already have event chairs lined up. The Christmas Party is next on the list and it will be a grand
time thanks to their hard work.

Area Relations VP – Shelly Sholl is just getting started! We finally finished our last parade in
September to Leavenworth and are ready to start planning for the 2019 parade schedule. If you
have not been to a Northwest Festival Hosting parade – try it this year! Some of the faves of the
group are Seattle Seafair, Leavenworth Autumn Leaf and Penticton Peach!
Your financial team – Russ Brown as Treasurer and Dan VerHuel as Finance Committee chair
have been hard at work crunching numbers to make sure we are moving forward with purpose
and planning when it comes to the accounts. Lots of moving parts and lots of expenditures that
start now so help us get those donation dollars in so we can build up the pot for 2019!
Your 2019 Team have been hard at work and would love to have help! Don’t hesitate to call the
Lilac office or any one of us if you have any questions or contributions to a committee. All ideas
are welcome! All hands appreciated. It takes a Team and we are thankful to all our Directors
and volunteers for all that they do and give to make this Festival the signature event of Spokane!

Brig General Rhonda Cornum Parade Grand Marshal

When U.S. Army flight surgeon Rhonda Cornum became one of two American service-women taken prisoner in the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq, her story of resilience helped convince Americans that female soldiers could serve in expanded roles in wartime. Her memoir about the conflict and her eight days in captivity, She Went to War: The Rhonda Cornum Story, was published in 1992. When the attention the war brought her faded, Cornum continued her military career, training as a urologist and serving in Bosnia. In 2003, during the second war between the United States and Iraq, Cornum attracted media attention again as the first female commander of the military hospital in Germany that treated many soldiers wounded in Iraq.

She first got the attention of the press in 1987, when she was selected as a finalist for becoming an astronaut. At the time, she was a captain in the Army, working at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center as an intern and living on a horse farm in Olney, Maryland. She was not selected, but went on instead to serve as a flight surgeon at Fort Rucker in Alabama.

In 1990, when the United States was preparing to go to war to reverse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Cornum agreed to go to the Persian Gulf as a flight surgeon with the 101st Airborne Division. The war began in January of 1991, followed by a ground assault in February. During a failed attempt to rescue a fighter pilot with a broken leg, Cornum’s helicopter was shot down over Iraq. As the copter fell, “I remember thinking, ‘at least I’m dying doing something honorable, ‘” Cornum told Joellen Perry for a special “heroes” issue of U.S. News and World Report. “We crashed at 140 miles per hour—there’s no way I should have survived that crash. But then I looked up and I saw five Iraqi guys with their rifles pointed at me, ” she recalled to Adam Ramirez of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. “I knew I wasn’t dead.”

Five of the eight crew members died in the crash. Cornum had a bullet lodged in her shoulder, both her arms were broken, and she could not stand on her knee because of a blown ligament. The Iraqi soldiers pulled her out of the copter by one of her broken arms, threw her into a circle with another survivor, and threatened to shoot them, but did not. Instead, they drove them to a prison in the Iraqi city of Basra. During the drive, an Iraqi solider molested Cornum. She was unable to fight him off because of her broken arms. Held prisoner for eight days, Cornum was interrogated but did not reveal anything classified. Other Iraqi soldiers were more respectful, helping her take off her flight suit and giving her a gown to wear.

Cornum was released March 5, 1991, a week after the war ended. She and other prisoners were flown to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf greeted them. Cornum had her arms in slings. The press paid special attention to Cornum and Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, the other U.S. servicewoman taken prisoner by the Iraqis. Cornum’s memoir, She Went to War, was published a year later. It told the story of her time as a prisoner of war. Barton Gellman, a Washington Post writer, praised the book, which begins with her helicopter flying over the desert in Iraq. “From its first sentence, it is vivid and concrete, ” he wrote. Cornum, he added, “displays a resourcefulness and courage that would do credit to any soldier.” The New York Times named it as one of the most notable books of 1992.

Washington Post profiler Henry Allen described her this way: “She has green eyes, brown hair and a distaste for being photographed from the left because of the narrow, high-bridged nose she has broken twice riding horses. She is a licensed steeple-chase jockey. She used to fox-hunt when she was a medical student in Washington…. She wore a big wristwatch with a calculator and a compass on it. Aviators are known for wearing big wristwatches. She has flown everything from helicopters to F-15s, and she once built her own plane.” Cornum, Allen noted, stayed out of the debate about the role of servicewomen in the military and the sexual harassment scandals, such as the Navy’s Tailhook incident, that seemed part of an early-1990s backlash against military women. “She has mastered neither the confessional anguish nor the defiant boasting of the daytime talk shows and congressional hearings where our nation hammers out its moral certitudes of the moment, ” Allen noted.

Others may have seen her experience as an example of why women should be protected from combat’s front lines, but Cornum did not. In June of 1992, Cornum made headlines when she revealed in advance of her book’s publication that she had been molested while in Iraqi custody. She said she did not want to make light of sexual assault, but she did not seem to consider it the worst part of her imprisonment. “Since everything that happens to you as a prisoner of war is non-consensual, then the fact that one thing they did was non-consensual is not very relevant, ” she told the Washington Post ‘s Allen. “So then you have to organize the bad things that can happen to you in some other hierarchy. My hierarchy was, is it going to make me stay here longer, is it life-threatening, is it disabling or is it excruciating. If it’s none of those things, then it took on a fairly low level of significance.”

Though she never identified with the feminist movement, Cornum insisted that women in the military should be judged on their own talents, and she dismissed those who would use her experience as an argument for keeping women out of jobs on the front lines. “Every 15 seconds in America, some woman is assaulted. Why are they worried about a woman getting assaulted once every 10 years in a war overseas? It’s ridiculous, ” she told Cathy Booth Thomas of Time. “Clearly it’s an emotional argument they use … because they can’t think of a rational one.”

When defense secretary Les Aspin opened many new military roles to women in April of 1993, the service of women such as Cornum in the Gulf War was credited with proving that women could serve capably in important roles and brave the dangers of war. Cornum’s conduct as a prisoner “was a validation that if women are in combat and something like this happensthey do have the strength, the stamina, the mental courage to meet the demands, ” retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught told Perry of U.S. News and World Report.

Though most former prisoners of war end up leaving the military, Cornum stayed. She trained in urology surgery and became staff urologist at an Army medical center. By 2001, she had been promoted from major to colonel and was commanding a medical unit in Tuzla, Bosnia. She was well-respected by her staff there, in part because most members of the Army know her story, Maj. Richard Meaney, the hospital’s executive officer, told Ramirez of Stars and Stripes. “But even if she didn’t have that history, she’s still a top physician and a fantastic commander, ” Meaney said.

In 2003, when the second Iraq war began, Cornum was stationed at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. and studying at the National War College there. As American soldiers, including women, were taken prisoner, reporters spoke to Cornum again about her experience 12 years earlier. That summer, Cornum graduated from the War College—often considered a step toward higher positions in the military—and became commander of the Army’s Landstuhl military hospital in Germany, its largest hospital outside the United States, with more than 1, 800 staff members. She was the first woman to hold the position. Landstuhl often treated soldiers injured in Iraq, so her new position put her back in the spotlight, talking to reporters and conducting press conferences. She took over a few months after the invasion of Iraq, just before an insurgency broke out, prolonging the war. “There were some days when the workload was light, ” Rhonda recalled to Jim Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leader after leaving the position. “But you really couldn’t relax because you knew that the next day you might be completely overwhelmed.” When 16 soldiers were sent to Landstuhl that November after their Chinook helicopter was attacked, Cornum compared their experience to her wartime crash for Mark Landler of the New York Times. “At least we had the ability to shoot back, ” she said. “The guys in the Chinook just had to sit there and watch what was happening to them. That must have been the hardest part.”

Good Housekeeping ‘s Allen noted that Cornum sometimes still worked as a doctor when many wounded soliders arrived at Landstuhl at once. After the battles in Fallujah, Iraq, in April of 2004, Cornum admitted patients and assisted in the operating room. “When you first meet her, you might say, ‘Wow, she’s kind of a tough bird, ‘” Col. Steven Older, Landstuhl’s chief medical officer, told Allen. “But under that is a soft, compassionate person. She’s a very caring physician.” Patients often knew about her experience in the first Gulf War, since her memoir was available in the hospital store. She often consoled patients and their families. “Don’t be discouraged, ” she told wounded soldiers, according to Allen. “It’s going to take you a long time, but you’re going to come back if you want to.”

Cornum and her husband, Kory, an Air Force colonel and orthopedist, spent several years at the same posts. He was stationed at Fort McNair while she studied at the War College, and he was also stationed at Landstuhl while she commanded it; he coordinated a volunteer doctor program that brought in neurosurgeons from the United States to compensate for a shortage of military neurosurgeons. In June of 2005, the Cornums left Germany for the 320-acre horse farm they bought in 1998 in Kentucky, to take a break before their next assignment. Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leaderfound them resting and taking calves to market. Cornum was scheduled to report to a new assignment in Atlanta in July of 2005. Though press reports had speculated she might eventually become a general, Cornum said she might retire to the farm if their daughter, Regan, who looks after it while Cornum and her husband are on active duty, were to go to veterinary school.



Retired United States Army Officer

Director, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Army Staff

Director, Health Strategy for TechWerks

Surgeon, Urology

Letterman Institute of Research, Presidio

Commander, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center – 2003-2005

Command Surgeon, United States Army Forces Command

US Army Assistant Surgeon General for Force Protection

Medical Task Force Commander, Bosnia – 2001

Commander, Support Hospital, Ft. Bragg – 2000

Staff Urologist, Eisenhower Army Medical Center – 1998

Flight Surgeon, 229th Attack “Black Hawk” Helicopter Regiment – 1990

General Surgery Intern, Walter Reed Army Medical Center – 1986-1987



Doctorate in Biochemistry and Nutrition, Cornell University – 1978

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, M.D., Bethesda, MD – 1986

National War College – 2003 (President of her Class)

Air Command and Staff College – 1992



Born – 31 October 1954

Hometown – Dayton, OH

Spouse – Colonel and Dr. Kory Cornum, USAF



Legion of Merit

Distinguished Flying Cross

Bronze Star

Meritorious Service Medal

Air Medal

POW Medal and Purple Heart

US Army Ten Outstanding Young American Award

Fairchild Hosts Lilac

It was a typical bluebird Spring day in Spokane when the 80th Anniversary “Swing into Spokane” Lilac Princesses toured Fairchild Air Force Base. The girls started with turns in the “boom pod” or the cockpit of a special KC-135 Refueling Tanker – “The Lilac Princess” tanker to be exact!  One of the few planes with historic nose art. They then had a tour of the Tower to see all that they could see from a birds eye view!

Then it was on to see what kinds of fun we could have with MRE’s for lunch, trying out night vision goggles and watching the Command Chief outrun the K-9 unit! If all this was not enough fun for these Royal Princesses, the base culminated in a dedication of the back room at the Dining Facility to the Spokane Lilac Festival. It was named the “Torchlight” room in honor of our Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.  Spokane is lucky to have representations of those that protect our freedoms so close to the city, and we in turn hope that the military troops assigned to Fairchild in turn feel supported by our great community. Those were the sentiments of our President, Nancy Cole as we thanked the base for their fabulous day and the honor of our namesake room!

Queens Luncheon

Attend the Spokane Lilac Festival Queens Luncheon where the Lilac Royalty host and honor out-of-town Royalty. Along with a delicious lunch, guests enjoy a fashion show and a keynote speech by the 2018 Honorary Grand Marshal, Shelley Gilchrist Broader (1982 Queen and President/CEO of Chicos Fas Inc.).
May 15th, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Get tickets from our website: http://spokanelilacfestival.org/hosting/

Don’t forget about the other Festival Weekend events:
Spokane Lilac Festival Juried Art Show – May 14th, 6:00 pm
“Lilac City’s Got Talent” Show – May 15th, 6:30 pm
Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane Luncheon – May 15th, 11:30 am
Let Freedom Ring Breakfast – May 17th, 7:30 am
Spokane Lilac Festival Gala – May 18th, 5:30 pm
Float Viewing – May 19th, 9:00 am
Rose Planting Ceremony – May 19th, 10:00 am
Cruizin’ the Falls Car Show – May 19th, 10:00 am
Dreamship – May 19th, 10:00 am
Kids Area – May 19th, 10:00 am
Hillyard Kiwanis Beer Garden – May 19th, 10am-6:00pm
Lilac Century Family Fun Ride – May 20th, 10:30 am

Royalty Wednesday

The Royal Court was very busy Sunday! They participated in three public events,
Paint-a-Helmet, the Royal Tea Party, and the Mayor Lunch.

Sunday morning, the Court helped out with Paint-a-Helmet, an event hosted by the Spokane Kiwanis Club. Children who attended received a free white bike/recreational safety helmet to custom decorate. At least 700 helmets were distributed this year!

In the middle of the day, they ate lunch with the Mayor of Spokane. The group enjoyed the meal and were ecstatic to meet the mayor!

Finally, they attended the Royal Tea Parties where they inspired young girls to become “Princesses in Waiting.” The “Princesses in Waiting” joined the 2018 Royal Court in learning about proper etiquette for drinking afternoon tea. The young princesses also joined a raffle for the opportunity to win a ride on the float in the 2018 Jr. Lilac Parade on May 12th!

All Photos by Hawkinson Photography


Women’s History Month, diversity at Fairchild AFB

It’s Women’s History Month at Fairchild AFB and the base wanted to recognize these three women!

Airman 1st Class Katelynn Williams, 92nd CES firefighter.

Williams’s primary mission as a firefighter is to respond to in-flight emergencies, something that can be unpredictable and requires constant training in order to stay prepared for when the time comes to respond.

Staff Sgt. Amanda Morgan, 92nd CS cyber systems operator.

Morgan’s primary mission is to monitor Fairchild’s virtual and physical environment for authentication, and manage cyber patches and vulnerabilities.

Maj. Whitney Hasbrouck, 92nd MDOS clinical psychologist.

Hasbrouck provides counseling services to those in need and impacts the way her patients interact with others in their lives.

To learn more about what these individuals think of diversity within the Fairchild AFB check out the article at:

Spokane Lilac Festival Gala

Attend the 2018 Spokane Lilac Festival Gala where we honor out-of-town dignitaries from other festivals and military dignitaries. Entertainment will be provided by the Eastern Washington University Jazz Ensemble.
Parade Grand Marshal, Brig Gen. Rhonda Cornum, United States Army, will be the keynote speaker.
5:30 PM Social
6:30 PM Dinner Program
Buy tickets at our website: http://spokanelilacfestival.org/hosting/

Don’t forget about the rest of the Festival Weekend events:
Spokane Lilac Festival Juried Art Show – May 14th, 6:00 pm
“Lilac City’s Got Talent” Show – May 15th, 6:30 pm
Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane Luncheon – May 15th, 11:30 am
Let Freedom Ring Breakfast – May 17th, 7:30 am
Spokane Lilac Festival Queens Luncheon – May 18th, 11:30 am
Float Viewing – May 19th, 9:00 am
Rose Planting Ceremony – May 19th, 10:00 am
Cruizin’ the Falls Car Show – May 19th, 10:00 am
Dreamship – May 19th, 10:00 am
Kids Area – May 19th, 10:00 am
Hillyard Kiwanis Beer Garden – May 19th, 10am-6:00pm
Lilac Century Family Fun Ride – May 20th, 10:30 am

President’s Message: Nancy Cole

Things are popping in the Lilac Festival! Starting this weekend with the 𝗥𝗼𝘆𝗮𝗹 𝗧𝗲𝗮 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘆, we are rolling into festival time which is loaded with fun events.
If you like to golf, sign your team up for our 2018 our Armed Forces Appreciation Golf Tournament on May 4th at Indian Canyon.
If you’re an art aficionado, you won’t want to miss our 𝗟𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗰 𝗟𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗰𝘆 𝗔𝗿𝘁 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄 and Awards Party on May 14th from 6-8 PM at Paints and Pints.
If you want to see some amazing talent, buy a ticket to our first annual 𝗟𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗰 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆’𝘀 𝗚𝗼𝘁 𝗧𝗮𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁! show on May 15th at 6:30 PM at Ferris HS.
If you like to dress up, honor our military and donate to a good cause, register for the 𝗦𝗽𝗼𝗸𝗮𝗻𝗲 𝗟𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗰 𝗙𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝗹 𝗚𝗮𝗹𝗮 on May 18th at 6 PM. There will be dinner, dancing, entertainment and great food at the historic Davenport Hotel!
The day of the parade we have lots of fun activities in the park to celebrate our 80th anniversary. There’s something for everybody and we hope to see you there!

Royalty Wednesday

This week, the Royal Court participated in Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day! They had fun scooping free ice cream for the public to enjoy! How can anyone not enjoy giving people free ice cream?

They will also be doing a meet and greet on Friday, April 13th at Fred Meyer on N. Division from 3-5 pm!


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