As if a daughter receiving her father’s medals 26 years later weren’t enough, it turns out that both of her sons are serving in the military as well. They took leave to fly back to Massachusetts for this ceremony. Their presence made the event even more of a meditation on patriotism, love of country, and a family’s tradition of service — and made it all the more poignant that they were finally receiving the tangible acknowledgement of their grandfather’s service.Throughout the ceremony, I had so many thoughts and feelings coming up — about service and community and family traditions and what it means to genuinely honor patriotism, as distinct from giving it lip service as a way to score political points — that I’m not even going to try to write them out; I’m just going to invite people to watch for themselves.
The video is 27 minutes long. For those who don’t have that much time, here’s a guide to the video so you can scan ahead to specific points (you really ought to watch the speeches by the family, at least):
Beginning: Edmund W. Mulvehill, Jr., Director of Veterans Services for Norwood, talks about Armit Tilgner’s service and explains why this collection of medals is rather astonishing.
4:50 Helen Tilgner speaks
8:05 Helen Tilgner’s two sons speak
14:10 John Kerry speaks
24:17 John Kerry presents the medals to the family — and really, you just have to watch the final 2 minutes of the video; this part is just after the ceremony proper has ended, as Helen and her sons look at the medals with the Senator