First Lieutenant Edwin Schuyler Walden, 93, Reports for Duty

Last night First Lieutenant Edwin Schuyler Walden aka Gramps returnedIMG_3997 home from his trip to Washington, DC with Honor Flight Maine.

Forty-five WW2 veterans made up this fall’s group. I like to think they represented all the men (including my father and perhaps yours) who volunteered to go to war. Gramps’ son said it best; they went not knowing if they would come back.  It has been said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.  These good men from all over our country willingly risked their lives that good might prevail.

This weekend Gramps and his fellow veterans were honored. ThousandsIMG_3998 greeted their flights with cheering, clapping and singing. Fire engines performed their water salutes. There were handshakes aplenty and the phrase, Thank you for your service, was heard many times over.

But the most moving moment for Gramps was the 45 minutes he stood at attention at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It happened like this. As he got dressed in the morning, he decided to wear his old uniform from over 70 years ago. After breakfast he and  his fellow vets traveled by bus to the different sites. They visited the Vietnam Memorial,  Lincoln Memorial and the World War 2 Memorial. By afternoon, Gramps was getting weary and his legs were tiring. He was also feeling the somber mood of remembering all those who had given their lives for others.

And then the group arrived at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This delegation of Honor Flight Maine had been invited to attend the changing of the guard and had brought with them a Maine wreath to lay at the tomb.

Right before the ceremony began, Gramps was singled out (he thinks because of his uniform) by the woman in charge, ‘Lieutenant, I want you to stand right here, on guard, during the ceremony.’

‘Yes, ma’am’, said Gramps, ‘I would be honored.’


Gramps stands guard.

He got up from his wheelchair and stood at attention, thinking of those men who had died in war and specifically those who had been buried unknown and unnamed. He felt it was a solemn and sacred duty given to him and he took it seriously. Gramps, who in his regular life seldom stands for even short periods of time, stood straight and tall for three quarters of an hour. The sun cast his shadow before him and when he saw his legs begin to bend and wobble, he made sure to stand tall again. The strength of his will was stronger than the frailty of his body. He felt privileged to give honor to the fallen.

When the wreath had been laid and the changing of the guard completed, Gramps’ hard work of standing at attention was finished. ‘Very well done, Lieutenant. Thank you,’ he was told. Only then did Gramps sit down.

Gramps came home completely overwhelmed with gratitude to God and country for giving him the privilege of serving our country and for the marvelous and free life he has lived.


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6 Responses to First Lieutenant Edwin Schuyler Walden, 93, Reports for Duty

  1. Mary Narbus says:

    Amen to that! Thanks for serving Ed! I know these are only words but I truly appreciate the great sacrifice you made along with all the others, (including my Dad and my Father in Law) who served our great country!

  2. johnnyduval says:

    This is beautifully written, Viv. I felt like I was right there and was overcome with the emotion of the experience.

    Boon – our internal thanks to you and your magnificent generation who gave so much so that we could live in the freedom and liberty that we enjoy today.

    With love and thanks, John

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Colleen Lennon says:

    well done Lt. Edwin Schuyler Walden!
    Viv this was an amazing story! Felt like I was there watching on! Enjoyed it so much!
    What an experience for Gramps!!

  4. Margo Lambertson says:

    Great Job, Viv. I was hoping you would write something on this trip. I felt very proud and moved to be there as they came home. Inspiring and a good reminder of the sacrifice of these wonderful men and women.

  5. marsha and lew hartz says:

    oh my goodness, Ed! lew and I are soooo proud proud you! ‘ten-hut, soldier and friend!

  6. kallegra says:

    I had some quiet time on this summer day and what better way to spend it than reading some great writing. Am I glad I did! You made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me think. Good stuff!

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