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2016 Memorial Day Message: “Be an American Worth Dying For”

Posted by glennled on July 20, 2016

Memorial Day is the annual holiday when America honors its war dead. Raelynn Ricarte came to Edmonds, WA from Hood River, OR in the Columbia River Gorge area to deliver the keynote message of this year’s Memorial Day ceremony on 25 May at Edmonds Community College—“Be an American Worth Dying For.” Her son, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jesse Atay, deployed five times in both Iraq and Afghanistan during nearly 13 years in military service, first as a platoon leader and then as the lead on a combat assault team. The horror of September 11, 2001, sent Atay to war.

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Raelyn Ricarte, The Gorge Heroes Club and author, “Living the Oath: Warriors Take It, Families Endure It”

Ricarte has earned the right to deliver that message. She vowed to take care of her son’s “dudes” through action, not just lip service. She started sending care packages to troops in the Middle East, using small amounts of donated funds. That eventually grew so much that she founded The Gorge Heroes Club, a non-profit pro-troop group that now sends the troops thousands of care packages.  Please see http://gorgeheroesclub.blogspot.com/.

When you hear or read her stories about the agonies of loss and trials of grief which the families of America’s war dead go through, you understand how she can say to all our citizens, “Be an American Worth Dying For.”

To me and others I know, it was the best Memorial Day ceremony held at Edmonds Community College so far. Everyone on the program spoke from the heart and told their own personal stories. You got their messages. And after the wreath-laying ceremony outside on campus and after Kyle Gaul, Northwest Junior Pipe Band, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, I had the privilege of sounding “Taps” one more time on my golden bugle, fading into silence at the end, concluding the program.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it. Outdoor photos courtesy of Veterans Resource Center, ECC.

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