On Memorial Day: Honoring sacrifice

 
Series: Coronavirus | Story 216

Last updated 5/27/2020 at 4:41pm

Brian Soergel

Olivia Olson speaks during the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony.

For decades, families, friends, and neighbors have stood shoulder to shoulder at the Edmonds Cemetery, enduring the rain or relishing the sun, with red poppies sprouting from their buttonholes and American flags demarcating the graves of the fallen heroes resting below their feet.

Bagpipes, brass, and rifle shots echo as a reverent audience bows its head in remembrance, prayer, and respect. This ceremony, with its herculean task to pay homage to the ultimate sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, has annually provided our city with an opportunity to appreciate the blessings of liberty our veterans have secured for us.

These blessings manifest in the devoted team responsible for this event, our talented vocalists and musicians, our articulate and thoughtful local leaders, and our spirited and patriotic community.

Today, as I stand with my family on the vacant grounds of the White Table Ceremony, where once stood folding chairs and picnic blankets, I am struck that though we cannot today gather, we are blessed with an even heightened sense of community and camaraderie.


While this year the cemetery stands quiet under a blanket of rain, the surrounding homes are filled with those who've donned masks, volunteering their time or expertise to help usher us through these challenging times; those who've supported their friends and their local businesses; those who've filled their streets with the music emanating from their front porches.

Our men and women in uniform died to protect an America that perseveres, an America that unites, an America that innovates, an America that protects.

Today, we honor their sacrifice by being that America.

Olivia Olson, 19, who graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School, won the VFW's annual Voices for Democracy essay contest six times – the Patriot's Pen twice in middle school and the Voice of Democracy four times in high school. She is a sophomore at USC with a double major in philosophy, politics and law, as well as economics. She returned to Edmonds in 2019 to read another essay on Memorial Day.

 

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