Memorial Day: Fort Benning Remembers Fallen Heroes
By Fort Benning/Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs Office /
FORT BENNING, Ga. – Veterans, family members and dozens of other guests gathered May 29 for a somber Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort Benning Post Cemetery where Brig. Gen. Peter L. Jones, commandant of the United States Army Infantry School, placed a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier to honor the fallen heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.
The wreath of blue irises, red roses and white daisies and carnations—draped in red, white and blue ribbon—was carried by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Floria and Pvt. Jarvis Wilson, both assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment on Fort Benning.
Chaplain (Col.) Robert Hart, head chaplain for Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence, recited the invocation and benediction during the service, while the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade supplied the color guard and the 194th Armored Brigade provided the firing team for the three-volley gun salute.
Jones stressed that it was important to honor and remember these brave heroes.
“We all must meet the sacrifices of our fallen Soldiers in our minds and let them now serve as an inspiration for us all,” said Jones during the ceremony. “All of our fallen warriors throughout our nation’s wars and conflicts have embodied the Army Values of selfless service. Remember their courage, remember their dedication to duty, not only on this Memorial Day, or any other special occasion, but really every day,” Jones said.
Many Gold Star family members attended the ceremony and Jones recognized and paid tribute to them.
“We are humbled by your sacrifice … we are inspired by your resiliency … and we are grateful for your continued service to this great nation,” Jones said.
“It is fitting that we stand here today both on this hallowed ground, within sight of Inouye Field, which contains the soil from the hallowed battlegrounds around the world from which our warriors have fought because we are literally standing on the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before us,” Jones added.
In closing, Jones reminded those in attendance that there was no greater calling than service to our nation.
“As we each go our separate way, to commemorate this sacred day in our own way, we remember our loved ones and our comrades alike, let us not forget we should thank God that such men and women lived to inspire us,” said Jones. “Let us honor their lives and be grateful for their service and dedicate ourselves to serving our great nation so that we can all live in freedom and security.”
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May and represents a day of national awareness and reverence, honoring Americans who died while defending the nation and its values.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War Soldiers.
Army Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the veterans’ organization, Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The law took effect in 1971 at the federal level. The National Moment of Remembrance established by Congress in 2000 sets aside a moment for all Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity.
Memorial Day is a time for those in uniform to reaffirm their commitment to selfless service. As men and women continue to serve and risk their lives around the world, the Army pauses on Memorial Day to remember the legacy of excellence of American Soldiers. Generations of heroes have given everything, not for glory or gratitude, but for something greater than themselves.