Brig. Gen. French Honors Fallen During Tribute
August 25, 2014
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, commanding general, Joint Munitions Command, honored the sacrifice of military service members, firefighters and police officers, during the annual 'Tribute to Our Fallen' ceremony held here, August 23.
"Today we remember those who have answered a call to duty and so we honor every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coast Guardsmen, as well as those first responders, police and firefighters, who have devoted the best years of their lives to service of our country," said French. "They have stood ready to sacrifice all on our behalf."
Since the event's inception in 2004, several local Quad City area support organizations have merged as the Mississippi Valley Patriots to ensure that "all who have fallen in defense of this great nation will never be forgotten," said Fred Lue, MVP President.
Initially, the ceremony was dedicated solely to those Killed In Action from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those first responders and civilians lost in the 9/11 attacks. Today, Veterans from all eras are included in this remembrance. The ceremony is held during the last weekend of August at the Davenport, Iowa, Memorial Park Cemetery.
The ceremony was held at the All Veteran's Memorial, a permanent set of panels, benches, and a flagpole, located within the cemetery. The event began with a motorcycle procession by the Patriot Guard of Iowa and Illinois. More than 100 flags, which once draped the caskets of Veterans, were flown to honor the fallen.
"Today, this tribute to our fallen is a special opportunity for us to share the grief of those who mourn the lost and to share the hope that comes with knowing there are those willing to sacrifice all they have for a greater cause. These and thousands of other service members, policemen and firefighters are our nation's sons and daughters who rest in hallowed places across our country," added French. "They have left a legacy of courage and sacrifice for which we are eternally grateful and forever in their debt."
French also noted the sacrifices of the Gold Star Families, those families who also serve with their service members and endure the hardships of losing a loved one in the line of duty.
"Today's ceremony is a reminder that our fallen service members, policemen and firefighters will not be forgotten," concluded French. "Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice continue to be remembered. Thank you for being here today to help us remember."
In addition to French's remarks, there was a posting of the 'Lest They Be Forgotten' flag, a field cross ceremony, a rifle salute and taps, a 105mm howitzer salute and a balloon release.
The field cross ceremony is symbolic of a service member's final march and represents the bodies of the fallen on the battlefield. The memorial is built with a Soldier's rifle with bayonet attached, stuck into the ground, helmet on top and dog tags hanging from the rifle. The fallen Soldier's boots sit in front of the rifle and the inverted rifle signals a time for prayer to pay tribute to a comrade.
Following the balloon launch and as the skies turned dark, the names were read of those who have perished since last year's ceremony.