Memorial Day observance full of symbolism
May 31, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 31) -- The Fort Belvoir Garrison Command Team and representatives from the Belvoir Garden Club, Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and Army Cyber Command honored veterans of past wars during a Memorial Day observance, May 24.
The importance of honoring past and present servicemembers, and those who lost their lives defending our nation, was evident in the comments of Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, Army Cyber Command, commanding general and Col. John Strycula, the Fort Belvoir garrison commander.
Hernandez remarked that no other nation goes to the effort the United States does to recover and pay tribute to its fallen warriors. He said those efforts are part of the sacred trust that exists between our nation and our military.
"That trust says to every military member and every veteran that their sacrifices will not be forgotten," said Hernandez. "That trust also says we will take care of their Families when they are gone, and that they will be remembered."
The Belvoir Garden Club donated a wreath to honor those who lost their lives defending the country.
Everyone's presence at the event shows that they understand the true meaning and importance of Memorial Day, according to Strycula.
"(Memorial Day) is a sacred day of remembrance for all of those that have given their last full measure of devotion in defense of this great country," he said. "It is also an opportunity to honor their Families."
Representatives from the Fort Belvoir police and fire departments, as well as civilian members from the Directorate of Emergency Services, came to pay tribute to their brothers and sisters in uniform.
"It's just about remembering everyone that fights for our freedom in the present and past," said Lt. Robert Alderman, Fort Belvoir police department. "A lot of people get caught up in the cookouts and the time off from work, but it's definitely about remembering the veterans and all the sacrifices they've made."
In his remarks, Hernandez told the story of Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis of Fort Knox, Penn., who was killed in Iraq in 2006. McGinnis jumped on a fragmentation grenade an insurgent had thrown into the Humvee he and four other Soldiers were riding in.
McGinnis was only 21 years old. He has since been awarded the Medal of Honor.
First Sgt. Bradley E. Scott, acting Garrison Command Sergeant Major read the meaning of the 13 folds of the American Flag.
"It's very special," said Scott. "When you read them aloud in front of a crowd, it has a deeper meaning."
Scott said during Memorial Day he likes to remember those who came before him and paid the ultimate sacrifice. He also honors those who served during peace time.
A veteran of two combat tours in Iraq, Scott said the day is no more special to him, but his combat time gives him a different viewpoint.
"It gives you more perspective when you know Soldiers, personally, who have died in war," Scott said. "You take the time to remember them especially."
A deeper respect and appreciation for those who have served in the military should be acknowledged on Memorial Day by those who have not served, according to Scott.
"I don't want the meaning to be just another day off of work for them," he said.