Memorial Day service is a gentle reminder of soldiers’ sacrifice | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Jun 02, 2016

Memorial Day, 2016. Memorial Day every year touches my heart. As the years go by, my appreciation deepens for national days of recognition of men and women who have served our country.

I need reminders of the sacrifices of members of the United States military services, those who have sacrificed their lives, those who have come home wounded in body or spirit and those who currently serve.

I need reminders that men and women in the military have given service not only for their country. They have served for me and for everyone else who has not done military service.

Do I appreciate Memorial Day? Do I appreciate veterans? Oh, yes.

Today communities across the nation had parades, lined streets with flags, held ceremonies to honor those who have given their lives in military service.

Here in Edmonds, at the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery, the 34th annual Memorial Day ceremony featured youth and adults, patriotic folks who came together to participate in shared recognitions and remembrances.

They heard Mayor Dave Earling and others speak, honoring the memories of loved ones and strangers who gave their lives.

A full page in the program, titled, “They Answered Their Country’s Call,” listed local servicemen who died serving their country. Music drifted across the cemetery – voices and brass and bagpipes. There were tears and hugs and handshakes. I’d guess countless ceremonies across the land were similar.

Tonight on Channel 9, on Point of View, I watched a Memorial Day program following young servicemen who survived war but whose mental, emotional and physical damage was such that their group therapies, their shared horrors, were nearly too much to endure.

The program was difficult to watch, partly because I knew it represented only a tiny glimpse into their realities, realities shared by thousands of others returning from war, bringing their nightmares home to their ill-prepared families.

Last night I watched the televised National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., an annual tradition I’d recommend to every American.

It draws a crowd of thousands, plus an enormous TV viewing audience. The program included touching stories, honoring Gold Star mothers, heroes who died in combat and survivors of long-ago foreign wars.

Speakers told poignant stories of service people who gave their lives but also focused repeatedly on programs to help veterans who return, services to mend bodies and heal broken hearts.

They spoke of unrealized hopes and dreams, of remembrance and rededication. An orchestra played solemn music, a military chorus sang – and so did The Beach Boys. It was a grand and varied evening.

The National Memorial Day Concert treated with dignity and pride veterans of every branch of the service, each branch invited to stand when its song played. Army. Navy. Coast Guard. Air Force. National Guard. Marines.

Proud servicemen and women of all ages stood tall, heads held high as they sang their familiar hymns. Some had tears on their faces – mixed with soft evening rain. I’m ending Memorial Day weekend feeling thankful for my country and for those in its service.





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