Veterans honored during wreath-laying ceremony

Michael Schindler laying a wreath Saturday. (Photos by Kim Kimmy)

Michael Schindler of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family Cares was the guest speaker at Wreaths Across America Day ceremony held Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park, Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in north Seattle.

The local ceremony was part of a national movement where wreaths were placed at more than 900 veterans’ cemeteries, memorials and other locations around the country.

These wreaths represented each branch of the service, plus one for prisoners of war.

We’re reprinting Schindler’s speech below, and you can also watch it via this YouTube link.

Next year’s ceremony is set for Dec. 16, 2017, and wreaths are needed. While a record number of 306 wreaths were donated this year, there are more than 5,000 veterans at Evergreen-Washelli. Both groups and individuals are encouraged to participate by contacting Lorraine Zimmerman at

By Michael Schindler

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.

Today, December 17th is a day we:
REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans. HONOR those who serve and TEACH our children the value of freedom.

We stand here in front of the fallen – each of these markers represents a story – a life that made impact, a life that influenced others, a life that at one point helped shaped this world.
While you still have breath, are you doing your part to help shape the world?

Today, we remember them.

For our military and veteran families – AMERICA’S GREATEST ASSET – who sacrifice daily – we HONOR YOU.

We KNOW that, often, your sacrifice goes unseen – the daily unknowns and uncertainties of the whereabouts of a loved one, or the long hours, or the frequent deployments, the long separations – these stories often don’t make the front page.

It is your sacrifice that helps keep this country strong. Today we salute you for your sacrifices.

To ALL OF US – our CALL TO ACTION is to teach our children that service to others often requires sacrifice – that this life isn’t all about GETTING, but more about SERVING. It’s a tough message to sell. BUT SERVING – and sacrificing – it is what makes this country strong. The sacrifice of the few so that many can benefit is unfortunately a many decades-long standing tradition. Fewer than 7% of Americans living today have worn the uniform – and less than 1% today are on the frontlines actively standing guard over our freedom.

So it is our duty as parents, as teachers, as leaders to help our youth understand the need for sacrifice – or maybe we should explain the value sacrifice will add to their lives. I know that sounds insane – how can sacrifice add value? Remember, sacrifice is about giving something up so how can giving something up add value?

It adds value simply by changing one’s perspective – Imagine for a moment if we taught and required our youth to SERVE first – that the measure of their grade wasn’t just dependent on satisfying a test, that the measure of their popularity wasn’t measured by the brands they wore but rather on making a positive difference in the lives of a neighbor or their community.
That “giving up” of time becomes an investment in others. And ultimately an investment in themselves. That is value.

Imagine for a moment if we all were compensated a dollar for every life we had positive impact on. What would be your net worth?

Today, it is our obligation to teach our children that freedom requires sacrifice -That to become a servant leader in any industry elevates one to a position few will choose – but one that our country greatly needs. If you choose to wear the uniform, you will become one of America’s Greatest Assets – and your investment of time, sweat, tears will result in a reward that is priceless – freedom.

In closing – this day and every day – let us REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans. HONOR those who serve and ALWAYS TEACH our children the value of freedom.

Thank you.


  1. Michael, we can’t thank you enough for your thought-provoking words of inspiration. Thank you for graciously accepting our request to speak at our annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony in Veteran’s Memorial Park at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, Seattle, WA.

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