Blogging from the US Senate Campaign Trail: Eleanor Baumgartner

It has been a busy week for our family traveling around Washington State on the campaign trail!

Michael spends most of his time up and down the I-5 Corridor, based out of the campaign headquarters in Bellevue.  However this week he was also campaigning hard in the Tri-Cities and the Walla Walla area. On Friday, Conrad and I headed over Snoqualmie Pass for a road trip to join him for a parade in Dayton. With all of the Memorial Day weekend traffic, and baby feeding stops, the journey took me a long eight hours!

Fortunately, it was worth it. The parade was fantastic and we had loads of fun! This was the 94th year that the Dayton Days Parade has been held, and there were marching bands, dancers, cowboys and rodeo royalty. Conrad had the best vantage point riding on Michael’s shoulders as we walked the parade route, and he was especially impressed by all of the horses. Conrad seemed to think that they were particularly big “d”s (dogs). Every time he sees something that looks like a dog his face lights up and he joyfully repeats  “d”…”d” …”d”.  We’re guessing that he might even say “dog” before he says “daddy.”

Of course, the most important reason for the parade on Memorial Day weekend is to remember the many Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this great nation free. Michael was tremendously honored to speak at a ceremony at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake on Memorial Day. In his speech, he shared thoughts about some of the Americans he knew who gave their lives in Iraq.

Back in my native England, our equivalent of “Memorial Day” is “Remembrance Day”, marked every year on November 11th just like Veterans Day over here. At 11am the country falls silent for two minutes, to honor all members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

As with Veterans Day, the date was chosen to commemorate the end of World War I; it was at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that Germany’s military leadership signed the Armistice. It’s shocking to remember that ten million soldiers lost their lives in that war, almost one million of them British. That was about 2% of the country’s total population, which is hard to imagine.

In England it’s still very common for people to wear pins with paper poppies to remember the fallen. They’re sold to raise money for members of the armed forces and their dependents. The tradition was started in America and comes from the poppies that sprang up on some of the deadliest battlefields of the Great War, made famous by the poem “In Flanders Fields”, which starts:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

I was surprised that the practice seems to have lost popularity here in America, even though veterans’ groups do still sell poppies. I’m certainly going to make sure it’s part of our family’s tradition, and I wore both my American flag lapel and a paper poppy this Memorial Day as Michael and I remembered all those who have sacrificed to keep America free. Let’s hope it will catch on again more widely in the future.

Question Of the Week:

“Eleanor, you’re traveling all over Washington on the campaign.  Which part of our state reminds you most of England?” – Katie, Gig Harbor

Katie, thanks for the question! One of the features I most love about Washington is the diverse natural environments: the spectacular Cascade mountains, the pine forests around Spokane, the coastline, the Palouse wheat fields and the high desert steppes near Yakima.

But I’ve noticed that the area most reminiscent of England has to be around Seattle and down towards Olympia, with the look of the trees and plants. Perhaps it’s because the weather is similar with lots of rain!

Coincidentally, last Sunday we took Conrad on a walk in the wonderful Washington Park Arboretum next to the 520 Bridge near UW.  It was especially beautiful at this time of year, with so many of the trees in flower. During our walk Michael and I met some volunteers from the WSU Extension Master Gardener program. Hearing I was from England, they mentioned how the vegetation on the west side of Washington state resembles that in the UK. Apparently there’s a particular British botany reference guide that’s only really of any use in our part of America. It was fun to have some scientific confirmation of what I’d suspected and Katie, you’re right that parts of our great state are very much like England!

Please keep sending your comments and questions about life on the campaign trail to, subject line: “Question for Eleanor”.

Wishing you and your family a blessed Memorial Day!