By Mr. David Mcnally (RDECOM)November 11, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - About 100 U.S. and Korean dignitaries and community members gathered to honor veterans at the 8th U.S. Army War Memorial Nov. 11.
U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp addressed the group before joining Veteran's of Foreign Wars and Korean officials in laying wreathes and flowers.
"We are here to pay tribute to the sacrifice of all American War Veterans who have, throughout history, given so much of themselves in the cause of freedom," Sharp said. "Since the very beginning of the American Democracy, proud patriots have stepped forward to defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic."
The general welcomed the mother of Lance Corporal Derek Gardner, who died in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, when a suicide bomber drove into the truck he was driving, killing Lance Corporal Gardener, seven other Marines, and three Iraqi Soldiers.
"Lance Corporal Gardener's mother, Mrs. Chalmeau honors us by being here today," Sharp said. "Mrs. Chalmeau's family has served and sacrificed consistently throughout American history from WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, up through Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is families like hers that have kept America free for 232 years."
Among the dignitaries, two children also paid tribute. Yongsan Boy Scout Steven Ashbaugh and Girl Scout Cadet Ariel Cox placed flowers at the memorial.
Veterans of Foreign Wars District III hosted the event.
The United Nations Command Honor Guard paid tribute by firing rifles, followed by the playing of Taps by a solitary 8th U.S. Army Band bugler.
"Any Veteran will tell you that freedom is not free," Sharp said. "But as long as our societies continues to produce veterans of honor and courage, as they always have, then our freedom as a people will be assured."