Community gathers to honor sacrifices of the fallen and their families
June 3, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany - "What's been keeping us going time and time again in the face of adversity?" asked Col. David Carstens, garrison commander. "The men and women who fought in these battles were very different, but they all shared this in common: They loved America very much." For this reason, and because of "our love of comrades," he added, America's military embodies resilience.?
Resilience, perseverance, patriotism and camaraderie were among the virtues discussed at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Memorial Day ceremony held at Veterans Park May 22. A multi-national, multi-service color guard presented the colors, and the U.S. Army Europe Band quintet played the German and American national anthems and taps. James Mann, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 27, also spoke, and other VFW members, Gold Star survivors, and Soldiers from the Hessian State Territorial Command (Landeskommando) attended.
Mann noted that anyone who has served in a war zone has a newfound appreciation for basic amenities such as running water, 24-hour electricity and women having the right to drive -- and that if any nation can bring peace to the world, it's the United States of America. But he asserted that peace is not yet secured.
"My children are reaching the age of military service," he said. "I ask myself daily if the cause of freedom is worth their lives. … My heart cannot endure the loss of either, so I must ensure for the loss of neither."
Carstens acknowledged that for many Memorial Day has become just another day for cookouts or a round of golf.
"We do not have that luxury," he said. "We in the military community are the ones who ultimately feel the pain of deployments, the hurt of separation from our families and the definitive loss of our friends and comrades in combat. All of you sitting and standing here today know exactly what I'm talking about."
He also dug into the Army's latest buzzword, "resiliency," pointing out that it's nothing new to those who have served and continue to serve -- from Valley Forge to Fallujah, the will to win despite horrific conditions and overwhelming odds makes the U.S. military resilient.
"It is not something we do -- it is what we are. And we have been resilient since June 14, 1775," he said.
Carstens also noted that wounded warriors and survivors in particular embody such resilience.
"I imagine that their resilience on some days is just getting out of bed in the mornings," he noted. The survivors in attendance were given white roses, which symbolize respect, homage to new starts and hope for the future.
"Being a part of a ceremony such as this and connecting to other survivors going through similar grief helps me cope with the loss of my husband," said Tiffany Oppong.
"I appreciate each ceremony dedicated to honor fallen Soldiers," Shaherezad Tamrat added. "It makes me proud to see that other service members and community members remember and show respect to the fallen and their families."