A veteran leaves a legacy, a story to be told.
George Cannizzaro and Kim Schrier vow to continue the effort to recognize and listen to those veterans who have served in harm’s way or behind battlelines drawn half a world away.
Both were special guests and among the speakers at the 23rd annual Veterans Day program at Tahoma National Cemetery on Monday.
Cannizzaro came to Kent from the other Washington – D.C. – to remind veterans and their families of the work that his department does to support veterans and families.
Schrier, a pediatrician from Issaquah, reaffirmed her office’s commitment to helping veterans and their families as a first-term U.S. Congresswoman, a Democrat representing the Eighth District.
“As a civil servant, as a citizen and as someone who counts numerous veterans among my family and friends, I can’t think of a more fitting way to spend this time, on this day, or a more fitting place to do so,” said Cannizzaro, the executive assistant for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Field Programs and Cemetery Operations. “For it is this still, strong silence of these hallowed grounds that call for us to pause, to consider and to act.
“We pause to honor veterans, those who rest in this place who have gone before us, the men and women standing right beside us, gathered here, and all veterans, wherever they may be today,” Cannizzaro said, “ … and by pausing to remember and honor our veterans, we can take time to consider their incredible contribution to our national life, to our lives, to our freedom, prosperity and our security.”
Cannizzaro’s office oversees the administration of memorial benefits for eligible veterans and their dependents through operation of 138 VA national cemeteries, the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, and the Memorial Products Service business line providing government-furnished gravesite markers and medallions.
“We are dedicated to the mission that no veteran never dies,” Cannizzaro said. “We preserve their memories through the work we do here on these sacred grounds and by memorializing their stories through the Veterans Legacy Program and online through with the Veterans Legacy Memorial site.
“There is more to our job than the work,” he added. “Every day is the opportunity to honor the sacrifices of our veterans and their families.”
Schrier acknowledged how frustrating it can be for veterans to get help from the government, but said her office stands ready to connect military veteran men and women to resources they need, whether it be for education, employment, housing and other essential services.
Schrier also took a moment to invite veterans and families to share their stories with the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center, just launched by the Library of Congress. The project collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
“It’s collecting your stories,” Schrier told the gathering. “We want to know what you went through, what your friends were like, what is was like for your families, the love letters you sent, the pictures you took because that is a living history.”
Schrier came away impressed with her first visit as a U.S. Representative to the Tahoma grounds.
“It’s an absolute, special honor to be here today,” she said. “This is a day to remember the veterans we have lost and to honor and celebrate and thank our veterans and families who are here today.
“This is a stunning cemetery,” she added. “Being here is a true honor, and what a befitting resting place for the heroes who have served our country. To everybody, I say thank you.”
Schrier praised that veterans today who wear a different uniform but perform duty for others.
“In addition to serving our country so nobly and putting everything on the line … our veterans come home and they continue to serve,” she said. “They’ve become our trauma surgeons, our pilots, our teachers and ever type of service that you can imagine.
“And so we continue to extend that gratitude.”
The ceremony at the Main Flag Pole Assembly Area included remarks from Robert Keer, Canadian counsel for Political, Economic and Public Affairs; and Brig. Gen. Stephane Boivin, deputy commanding general, operations, I Corps (Canada) and military honors.
The program included the presentation of colors, prayer and song, salutes and the laying of wreaths.