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Congressional Medal of Honor recipient recognized at Memorial Day Proclamation

LYNNWOOD, Wash., May 24, 2023—Mayor Christine Frizzell and the Lynnwood City Council made a Memorial Day proclamation during their business meeting on May 22, declaring their continued “commitment to making Lynnwood a Veteran-Supportive City where Veterans and their families can live, work, play, recreate, educate, and thrive.” 

The primary section of the proclamation reads: “we, Mayor Christine Frizzell, and the Lynnwood City Council, proclaim May 29, 2023, as Memorial Day, a day to honor the members of our Armed Forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice and express our gratitude to the families and friends of our fallen service members. Additionally, we urge all people of Lynnwood to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our Nation’s veterans and join us as we strive to create a Veterans-Supportive City.”

Memorial Day Proclamation

“I think it is important for our listeners to know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day — I think that’s a really distinct thing we need to honor and remember that [Memorial Day] is for those who died fighting [for] our country,” Council President Shannon Sessions said.

After the proclamation, Sessions introduced artist Michael Reagan, founder of the Fallen Heroes Project and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, and Gary Walderman, the executive director of the Heroes’ Cafe.

Memorial Day Proclamation
Michael Reagan, Vietnam Combat Veteran and Founder of the Fallen Hero Project speaking after the council dedicated him and Gary Walderman the Memorial Day Proclamation. SOURCE: Snapshot from Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting on May 22, 2023.

Reagan and the Fallen Heroes Project provide a custom hand-drawn portrait of “fallen servicemen and women” to their families free of charge. He worked as a professional portrait artist for celebrities and politicians, but decided to begin the nonprofit after doing a portrait for a widow of a corpsman who died in Iraq and finding out just how much it meant to her. Twenty years later, over 8,900 portraits have been drawn and given out by Reagan, a Vietnam veteran himself, and the Fallen Heroes Project.

Memorial Day Proclamation
Portrait of Vinnie drawn by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Reagan. SOURCE: Snapshot from Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting on May 22, 2023.

“I’m glad to be doing this. The most important thing I’ve ever done in my life are these portraits,” Reagan said. “And it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I will never forget.”

Walderman — who started the Heroes’ Cafe in 2017 to “bring veterans together” in a safe, judgment-free space to socialize, eat and connect them with resources — echoed Reagan’s sentiments.

“Memorial Day, like Mike said, is everyday for us,” Walderman said. “Everyday, I am told that one of our Heroes’ Cafe or friends of a Heroes’ Cafe attendee just passed away.”

Human Resources Director Vote

The council also confirmed Frizzell’s hiring of Annie Vandenkooy as the city’s human resources director in a 4-0 vote, with council members George Hurst, Shirley Sutton, and Josh Binda abstaining from the vote.

Annie Vandenkooy
Snapshot from Monday’s City Council meeting of Lynnwood’s new Human Resources Director, Annie Vandenkooy, approved by the City Council after a 4-0 vote with councilmembers George Hurst, Shirley Sutton, and Josh Binda voting to abstain.

“I am uncomfortable confirming without knowing costs,” Hurst said before the vote. “I understand that we won’t know what the salary and benefits package is for this director, but for that reason I will abstain.”

Frizzell immediately commented after Hurst.

“As has been common practice in the past, salaries and benefits are not discussed at this point,” Frizzell said

After the vote and Vandenkooy spoke, Sessions elaborated further on her yes vote.

“There are parameters around how much our directors make and we know what those are,” Sessions said. “We saw them during the budget time and so I have no problem voting yes for this.”

One thought on “Congressional Medal of Honor recipient recognized at Memorial Day Proclamation

  • I appreciated your very nice story on my accepting the Proclamation for Memorial Day. But when I saw the headline I realized there was a Major error in the headline. I didn’t receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. I was given “The Citizen Service Before Self Honor for Service” by the Medal of Honor Society. The Society is made of just the Medal of Honor Recipients alive today. This is not a political regognition. Then after receiving their Medal I was invited to the Army Navy Club in DC for dinner. At that event I learned two other things. First their decision for me to receive this Honor was unanimous, which I was told was very rare. Then they call this Medal, “The Citizen Medal of Honor.” Because I am a Vietnam Combat Marine Veteran, this distinction is important to me. Thank you.


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