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Memorial celebration at the Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight houses historical aircraft which have had a significant impact on our nation’s defense. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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Most people can remember a time in their life when the sound of an airplane whooshing across the sky would make them lift their face and search for the plane. We may have been young when we first looked upward, but every Memorial Day the gesture returns as air shows honoring our military servicemembers blaze through the sky. This Memorial Day will be no different as The Museum of Flight holds its annual Memorial Day Program Monday, May 29. 

"We look forward to working with the local community and recognizing people in the community for their military service," said Cale Wilcox, the public programs coordinator at The Museum of Flight. "We have fun putting this together and we're excited about our lineup this year."

This year's Memorial Day Program will include a keynote address by McChord's Col. Leonard J. Kosinski, a ceremony commemorating fallen U.S. servicemembers and musical performances by the Boeing Employees' Concert Band. "The Memorial Day concert is one of my favorite concerts of the year," said Olivia Bloomquist, the treasurer of the Boeing Employees' Concert Band. "It gives me a chance as a veteran to remember and honor, in a real and very personal way, the people who choose to serve our great country."

The Boeing Employees' Concert Band, which has been performing since 1979, is conducted by Alexei Girsh and has played at the Key Arena in Seattle, Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, and the Historic Flight Foundation in Mukiteo. "We've supported Memorial Day concerts and Veterans Day concerts for as long as I can remember," Bloomquist shared. "One of the great things we do is to play a piece that has all of the military branch songs in it. When each song is started, veterans of the service branch are asked to stand, including members of the band ... veteran audience members and veteran band members spontaneously salute each other when their particular service song is played."

The event's keynote speaker, Col. Kosinski, is the commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In addition to its primary combat and humanitarian operations, the 62nd AW is the only Department of Defense wing tasked to fly nuclear and nuclear-related cargo. It's also the only active-duty wing to provide airlift support for Operation Deep Freeze, the National Science Foundation's U.S Antarctic Program.

Part of The Museum of Flight's mission is to highlight individuals and organizations like the 62nd AW that have historical significance. The museum works to preserve aircraft and air and space artifacts while fostering educational programs in science, technology and humanities. "A pretty sizeable portion of our volunteer corps is made up of servicemembers," added Wilcox.

Established in 1965 by the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation in Seattle, the museum is the largest nonprofit air and space museum in the world. It houses over 175 aircraft and spacecraft and tens of thousands of artifacts. It also has a research center, flight simulator, flight library, and an extensive archive collection. "We have a great venue for this memorial," said Wilcox. The museum provides annual Pathfinder Awards to Aerospace industry experts and innovators, as well.

This Memorial Day, The Museum of Flight will honor servicemembers and the sacrifices they've made to our country by offering free admission to the Memorial Day Program for veteran and active-duty servicemembers. "We hope to bring the community together in a great space to remember those who died while serving in the military, both for our country and for our community," Wilcox stressed.

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