Blinded Vets Recognize Countrymen Who Gave All

Battling jet lag and 90-degree heat and high humidity, and dressed in a black suit, Operation Iraqi Freedom blinded veteran Steve Baskis presented the BVA Memorial Day wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Blinded Veterans by wreath

Left to right with BVA wreath, Al Avina, Steve Baskis, and Tom Zampieri

Assisting in the effort was newly appointed BVA Executive Director Al Avina, Director of Government Relations Tom Zampieri, and the customary volunteer guides from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Steve, a resident of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and a member of the Illinois Regional Group, had just returned to the United States the previous day from England, where he spent a week participating in BVA’s Project Gemini exchange with blinded veterans of the United Kingdom.

The cemetery wreath-laying followed the traditional Memorial Day ceremony in the adjacent Memorial Amphitheater, which Steve, Al, Tom, and Executive Assistant Christina Hitchcock also braved with some 5,000 additional veterans, family members of the fallen, and other visitors.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey offered the ceremony welcome. Remarks by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Memorial address by President Barack Obama followed. Music was provided by the U.S. Army Band.

Photo of crowd

Sweltering Washington, DC area heat and humidity did not deter the capacity crowd gathered for the Presidential address in the Memorial Amphitheater May 28.




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