I'd love to address your concern about my understanding of the Distinguished Service Cross and Toro Nagashi. As a huge admirer of our country's veterans and my father's Japanese culture with which I've been raised, please rest assured I have immense respect for both of the elements you mentioned.
For the characters, the lantern ceremony was more about growth and symbolism than following the tradition precisely. But more importantly, Maddie's choice regarding the DSC -- similar to military medals respectfully left on cemetery headstones -- would not necessarily have been my own. Whether I agree with her or not, she had her personal reasons for her action that, as the author (and a married mother myself), I had to resist second guessing. Ack, now I sound like I have multiple personalities. I'd better stop there, lol.
Anyway, thank you to everyone on this thread for reading and for taking the time to voice your thoughts!