Sponsor spotlight: Edmonds Memorial Day ceremony to honor Purple Heart recipients

During the 2022 Edmonds Memorial Day Ceremony, Lisa Nenno fought back tears as she remembered her U.S. Navy service as a trauma nurse in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

The annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery is a meaningful and moving event. It takes place this year on Monday, May 29, at 11 a.m.

All members of the community are welcome and asked to attend.

When Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson proclaimed Edmonds a “Purple Heart City” late last year, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8870 thought it was clear: The annual Memorial Day event should be themed for Purple Heart recipients.

Edmonds has been home to dozens of Purple Heart Recipients — those wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. military.

Consider Ray Sittauer, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 and was later a chairman of the Edmonds Planning Commission, as well as operator of Ray’s Hobby Shop, Ray’s Slot Track, then Ray’s Upholstery.

Or Robert F. De Lisle, Sr., who was struck by enemy aircraft while aboard the USS Intrepid and later owned a furniture refinishing business in Edmonds.

Remember Al Wilcox, founder of the Edmonds-based Wilcox Construction company, who flew as a Marine pilot with the “Flying Devildogs” in the Philippines. His  aircraft caught ground fire while flying at tree-top level, and although he burned in the fire, he was able to fly his crippled aircraft back to his base.

And Lee H. Rodgers, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars. He graduated from Edmonds High School in 1938 and was the recipient of over 27 ribbons and medals including the Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star.

The Edmonds Memorial Cemetery cares for 625 U.S. military veterans, dating back to the Civil War.

“Edmonds is a community proud of its military heroes,” said City of Edmonds Cemetery Board Chairperson Tracy Little. “Those who give the most for our country also give the most for this great city, and they deserve to be remembered on this Memorial Day. We hope all Edmonds citizens join us in remembering them.”

The featured speaker at this year’s ceremony will be Retired Marine Corporal Robert Olivarez Jr., who is National Junior Vice Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Troy Slocum

Also speaking will be Troy Slocum, winner of the VFW Post 8870 Freedom Scholarship. He will read the following essay at the ceremony:

In a story that likely leans more heavily on the apocryphal than the factual, Benjamin Franklin was stopped on the street outside of Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 by a passerby who asked him what kind of government they had crafted. “A republic,” he replied. “If you can keep it.” That pithy response, while likely embellished by history, nonetheless contains the essential nugget that has distinguished America from all her sister republics in the centuries since. The freedoms that the Founding Fathers glimpsed in the foundations of the fledgling Republic only evolved – and only continue to evolve – with the continued prudence and self-control of those who form the Republic: its citizens. We the People are free to act, but only to the extent that we act in accordance with the good of the nation, consistent with the principles of the Constitution, and mindful of the many differing viewpoints that have contributed to the evolution that is our Republic. That is what freedom means to me, and that freedom is inherent in the Republic given us by Mr. Franklin and his fellow Founders as embodied in the Constitution.

The Constitution was not meant to be a rulebook for all situations, but rather an outline of how the Founders viewed the effective functioning of a Republic – which by definition is a government that derives it power from the consent of the governed. Instead of providing for direct democracy, the Founders created a republican system through which the government is elected by the People, and those elected then govern within the framework of the checks and balances created by the Constitution to prevent the abuses of power that were so prevalent and unchecked in the other systems of government. Specifically, in the case of the colonies before independence, the abuses that were inherent in the remote monarchy of England. By removing the power from the sovereign, and giving it to the people, in the form of an elective process and a government bound by the Constitution, the Founders gave voice to the freedom of the people to choose. And for more than 200 years, the People have chosen, the Constitution has worked effectively to limit the power of those elected, and the Republic has not only survived, but flourished.

Mr. Franklin may have been prescient — or history may have simply found his famous wit to be a useful vehicle for the lesson – but in either case, the freedom of the governed continues to prevail. We have kept it, Mr. Franklin.

The Memorial Day ceremony will be approximately one hour long. It will take place rain or shine.

The Edmonds Memorial Cemetery and Columbarium is located at 100th Avenue West and 15th Street Southwest. Street parking is available along 100th Avenue West and 15th Avenue. Parking within the cemetery is limited to those with ADA permits. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs if they require seating.


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