A special Memorial Day in Edmonds | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | May 31, 2019

Memorial weekend touches my heart, and this year was no exception.

Sunday evening, I tuned in to the 30th annual “National Memorial Day Concert” from Washington, D.C. I watched the PBS presentation from start to finish – and then watched a second showing.

I watch this program every year, overwhelmed and touched by the focus on individuals who serve their country. Our armed services members don’t come into the military with power. Their service has nothing to do with politics or money or security.

Not theirs, anyway.

To the contrary, they enter service with no political clout, often with family backgrounds of little wealth, and God knows there’s no security to be found in war. If there are those in America who can find ways to keep their sons from the draft, they are not people in small-town or big-city America, living ordinary lives, seeking success and fulfillment with husbands, wives, family, friends, continuity and community.

Seeking the good life, not war.

What better time for our country to hear the stories of men and women who participated in the (too-many) wars of fairly recent American history? With the prospect of U.S. military forces being sent into another war, it was a poignant reminder that men and women who serve in our armed forces never really know when and where they will be called – and called again – during their enlistments.

And they understand that if they come home broken, they come home to a veterans health care system that many say also is broken. As more attention focuses on the shortcomings of physical, mental, and emotional treatment available for veterans, care simply must improve, sooner rather than later.

The Memorial Day concert showed the gut-wrenching terror of the landing on Normandy Beach, with 85% of American troops facing their first combat ever. There were scenes of men running into heavy fire in order to save wounded – or dying – fellow soldiers.

Also: The reading of the words of a widow of wartime speaking of the unspeakable – her husband killed in action. Two Korean War veterans sitting side by side, as actors read their heart-wrenching story and then walked to the two men in the front row to hold them and to thank them.

The armed services medley, with members of each branch of the service standing. The recognition of Gold Star families and Wounded Warriors. The honor given to those who have given their lives. And, finally, cast and crowd singing “God Bless America.” That was Sunday evening.

Monday afternoon, my brother Warren and I visited our parents’ graves. Then we stopped at McDonald’s. And there we met a veteran of the Korean War, a proud American who during ceremonies at our Edmonds Veterans Memorial received from the government of South Korea an “Ambassador of Peace” medal, presented to every U.S. Korean War veteran who could be located.

I asked to see the medal, and it was a beautiful symbol of recognition, certainly something to be treasured.

Roy, thank you for your service to your country and your continuing pride and positive spirit. Thanks to you and Vicki for sharing our time at McDonald’s, where we stopped only for ice cream but enjoyed the unexpected privilege of meeting a local American veteran – with a significant new medal.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.