One of our own Meredith College staff members marched in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. to honor lives lost in Desert Shield and Storm. Patty Blackwell, CMMS/Customer Service Clerk in Facilities Services, and US Air Force veteran, marched behind the National Desert Shield and Storm Memorial banner.
“Though it is becoming another forgotten war because of its brevity and lower number of casualties, it should not be forgotten,” Blackwell said. “There were still lives lost and a war fought. There are still veterans dealing with the aftermath physically and mentally.”
Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah, Kuwait Ambassador to the U.S., and her husband, who fought alongside U.S. troops in the war, visited with the troops and personally thanked them just before the parade. Canada sent a detachment to march in the parade as well, in honor of the lives lost by U.S. allies.
On Memorial Day 2023, the Desert Shield and Storm veterans marched with patches in their pockets stamped with the names of those lost, so they will not be forgotten. Blackwell marched with the patch of Capt Patrick B. Olson, USAF, an A-10 pilot whose plane was shot up as he flew over the battlefield in support of ground troops, but lost the plane without being able to eject in time after limping it back into friendly territory. She also marched with the patch of Sgt John T. Boxler, U.S. Army, a Quartermaster who was killed when his barracks was struck by a SCUD missile.
Blackwell reported that the day was rainy and the marchers were tired and worn down from standing for hours waiting to march, but it did not diminish their dedication as they marched in step through the mile-long parade route littered with puddles to the thunderous applause of parade-goers.
Many of the veterans marching had participated in previous years as well. Blackwell marched in both 2018 and 2019. “It was meaningful re-connecting with my fellow veterans, honoring those who lost their lives in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and supporting the construction of the National Desert Shield and Desert Storm Memorial at 23rd and Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C.,” she said.