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The National Memorial Day Parade returned to Constitution Avenue in Washington on May 29.
The program was headlined by three legends of the U.S. Apollo Program, astronauts Rusty Schweikert of Apollo 9, Charles Duke of Apollo 16, and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17. The trio was joined by Randy Bresnik, who will orbit the Moon next year as part of the Artemis II Mission.
Veterans, some showing the scars of their time in combat, were honored with reserved seating at the head of the event.
The event honored U.S. veterans from throughout American history, ranging from the Sons of the American Revolution to veterans of Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Iraq. Veterans of the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan, and veterans of the former South Vietnamese Republic, who fought against communism during the Vietnam War, were also honored.
High school marching bands from across the United States also came to honor veterans.
Schmitt, who served as a U.S. senator from New Mexico following his moonwalk, told The Epoch Times that the event was “very special for me,” particularly because his father fought in the trenches of World War I and his father-in-law was a veteran of World War II.
“It’s really special to be here, partly to honor them,” he said.
“I’m glad the Memorial Day tradition has started again, that’s just really special,” Schmitt said, a reference to the fact that in 2020 and 2021, the parade wasn’t held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restarting last year after the hiatus. “Whoever is responsible for that is to be congratulated and thanked.”
Charles Duke said the event was also close to his heart, citing his father’s experience in the military that, in turn, motivated him to join the Air Force, where he spent 29 years in active duty and reserves.
“A lot of people gave their lives where had the courage to step up, and to accept the risk,” Duke told NTD, a sister media outlet to The Epoch Times. “And so it’s amazing when you look back at what our country did.
“I think we need men and women with courage to step forward and accept the risk and move our country in a direction that would be a godly direction. Everybody just stepping up and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to help out with whatever I can do to make this a great country.’”
Craig Morgan, a service member who led the singing of the national anthem at the opening of the event, cited ongoing recruiting problems in his comments to NTD, encouraging the younger generation, “Don’t be scared of getting hurt.”
“Right now, our recruiting is at the lowest it’s ever been in the history of our military,” Morgan said.
He warned that if these trends continue, America will be “weakened” as a country.
“The weaker we become, the stronger the enemy becomes,” Morgan said.
“In order for us to maintain the freedoms that we celebrate,” these trends can’t continue.
“I can tell you, I’ve been in over 60—or almost 90—different countries now. And none of them have the freedoms that we do, not like we do. And so it’s important that we keep doing that.”
Duncan Graham, a veteran who served as a Navy sonar technician and attended the event as a VIP, said: “Memorial Day is the time to honor those that have gone before us. Those 1 percent of the population who have served, be continued to serve those that have passed in service. The ultimate sacrifice is what this Memorial Day is all about.
“It symbolizes the United States. It is our way of honoring those that went before us.”
The Epoch Times Keynote
Speakers from The Epoch Times, which helped sponsor the parade, also gave an address during the event.
Patrick Davis, deputy bureau chief of The Epoch Times’ Washington office, said that in addition to honoring veterans such as his father, who’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery, the parade was also about the ideals upon which the United States was founded.
“We love this great nation—the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Davis said. “We love the ideals upon which it was founded: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and justice for all.
“We love the opportunities that America has provided generations of immigrants seeking a better life, such as the founders of The Epoch Times and NTD News. Having escaped the oppressive grip of communism, they recognized the transformative power of the freedom of speech and the vital importance of preserving the principles that make America exceptional.”
Chris Bob, associate director of brand promotion for The Epoch Times, who descends from a line of veterans stretching back to World War I, took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of journalism in protecting those ideals.
“Journalism, in its purest form, plays a vital role in safeguarding the very essence of our democracy,” Bob said, highlighting its vital importance as a way “to hold those in power accountable, to shine a light on injustices, and to amplify the voices of the marginalized. Journalism has the power to deliver hope and optimism during times when it’s needed most.
“We love what we do and work tirelessly around the clock to serve the American people. But as our heroes in uniform demonstrate time and time again, love alone is not enough. Love must be met with action, dedication, and sacrifice. It is a force that compels us to rise up and defend what we hold dear.”