By Megan Garcia, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs
Fort Benning, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2017) – Patriot Guard Riders and Columbus Police Department motorcycles filled the air with sounds of rumbles and sirens.
This was the signal to the crowd of service members and civilians outside the National Infantry Museum that important people were on their way. These people, the Gold Star Families, have offered the greatest sacrifice America could ever ask of them.
“The greatest sacrifice is not giving your life for this country but to lose someone who did,” said Retired Army Gen. John Abizaid during the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Dedication at the National Infantry Museum on Oct. 16. “Our nation cannot survive without those who are willing to serve. Without such devotion, we are nothing.”
Before the dedication, the Gold Star Families were honored during a breakfast at the museum.
Families from across the country traveled to the dedication and breakfast in memory of their loved ones whom they lost; families like the Marshalls who came from Little Rock, Arkansas, to honor their son Army Sgt. Bradley Wayne Marshall, who died on July 31, 2007 in Iraq.
Francis Marshall, Bradley’s mother, said it was great to be there for the breakfast and to witness the dedication as another way to pay respect to her son. She added her and her husband, who is a Vietnam veteran, started a scholarship in Bradley’s name following his death in 2007 and have given away more than $60,000 in scholarship money.
The breakfast ceremony opened with remarks from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano and the Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps Ronald L. Green.
“Today, tomorrow and always, you have our unwavering love and support,” said Giordano as he addressed the audience of Gold Star Families. “No one can truly comprehend the unbearable weight of losing a loved one in service, and it is the type of pain no parent could ever imagine because outliving our children is the most unnatural of circumstances. The dedication your child or loved one had to this country is the same dedication you have to one another in softening the great burden of loss.”
Green offered similar sentiments and emphasized how humbled he was to meet the mother of a young Marine at the breakfast.
“She said, ‘He did it, sergeant major, and that’s exactly what he wanted to do; defend this country,’’’ Green said.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey served as the keynote speaker of the breakfast and followed the senior leaders of the Navy and the Marine Corps with his remarks.
“For over 242 years, Americans have been asked to sacrifice as your sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and many other loved ones, who placed themselves in harm’s way to fight for our country,” Dailey said. “We are deeply indebted to you as you are the legacy of these service members’ sacrifices.”
The newest Maneuver Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Major Scott A. Brzak said he was glad to arrive in time to be present for the breakfast and dedication.
“This is a great way to pay tribute to those we have lost and to those who are still serving,” Brzak said. “Our newest Soldiers who are graduating will see this and have a moment to reflect on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”