Heroes Among Us Luncheon celebrates and remembers veterans

Edmonds artist and Vietnam veteran Michael Reagan was the event’s keynote speaker. To his right is retired Marine Tennis De Jong.
Reagan shakes hands with Vietnam veteran Larry Smith
Vietnam veteran Larry Keller was one of several attendees who spoke of their positive experiences with Lynnwood’s Heroes’ Cafe.
A few of Michael Reagan’s many paintings
Mayor Christine Frizzell was surprised by a gifted portrait given to her by Michael Reagan.
Lynnwood Public Facilities District Executive Director Janet Pope, left, presents Air Force veteran and City Council President Shannon Sessions with a bouquet as thanks for her work in advocating for Lynnwood’s veterans.
The Fallen Heroes Table laid to honor those who have died in service of their country.
A cake-cutting ceremony is a tradition in which the oldest and youngest veterans cut a cake with a sword.
Guitars for Vets provides veterans struggling with PTSD with guitars and lessons to give them a creative outlet.

Hundreds of veterans and their families were the guests of honor at Friday’s first Heroes Among Us event sponsored by the Lynnwood Event Center and City of Lynnwood. The event treated attendees to lunch and cake between visits to the Veterans Resource Fair, which provided veterans with information about valuable assistance available to them. The event’s keynote speaker was Michael Reagan, an internationally renowned Edmonds artist and Vietnam veteran who founded the Fallen Heroes Project, for which he received a Civilian Medal of Honor in 2015. 

The Fallen Heroes Project serves Gold Star families by gifting them a hand-drawn portrait of the loved one they lost. So far, Reagan has created over 6,000 portraits and received countless thanks from touched families who were able to bring their sons and daughters “home.” 

“What we’re going to do is help them [the families] never forget,” said Reagan. He recounted stories from his time serving in the Marines with a natural charisma that brought both chuckles and tears from an audience that knew the same feelings all too well. He thanked Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell for the city’s welcoming attitude to veterans.

“What you’re doing here in Lynnwood means a lot to me and many other people in this audience,” he said.

— Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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