By Lt. Col. Jeff Allen (Combined Arms Center)May 27, 2013
The Fort Leavenworth community and leadership came together on Memorial Day to commemorate the 1.2 million Americans who gave their lives in defense of the Nation.
Despite the wet weather conditions, hundreds of people gathered on Fort Leavenworth, Kan. to reflect upon and remember the sacrifices made by service members from every branch of service in the Nation's many conflicts. Brigadier General James E. Rainey, director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, Combined Arms Center was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
In his remarks, Rainey reminded everyone in attendance of the history of Memorial Day--when it began and why.
He also took the occasion to remind everyone that there are still Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines deployed around the globe in defense of our ideals.
The ceremony was intended to take place at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, but was moved indoors on account of lightning in the area. The indoor venue didn't take away from the solemnity of the event. A wreath was "placed" near the National colors in memory of Maj. Henry Leavenworth, namesake for the installation. A second wreath in memory of the service members buried in the cemetery was presented by Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Dennis A. Eger, senior enlisted advisor to Rainey; and Col. Ozden Celik, Turkish Army liaison, and Lt. Col. Paul In Den Bosch, Dutch Army liaison.
Both wreaths were later moved outside to the cemetery.
Rainey assured the crowd assembled in the Frontier Conference Center, that today's military still receives the full support of the United States public, despite the last decade of conflict, national economic issues, and a dangerous global environment. He offered a retort to those who challenged that assertion.
"I encourage people to turn off the TV, shut down the internet, and go outside," Rainey said. That's where you will find the military's supporters at baseball games, church services, parades and other public events, he added.
His final thoughts were of those Soldiers who are now deployed in harm's way. He asked the audience to pray for those deployed, visit the cemetery, and to thank veterans for their service whenever possible.