By Sgt. 1st Class Thaddius S. Dawkins II, USASOC Public AffairsMay 21, 2015
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, May 21, 2015) ˗ Seven new names were unveiled on the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Memorial Wall during a ceremony that brought together Gold Star Family Members and Soldiers at the USASOC Memorial Plaza.
"I don't know where in history the idea first started of remembering and ultimately honoring the sacrifice of individual citizens for their country," said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general, USASOC. "I do know that over the millennia we have successfully matured in some places that the communities that organize themselves on the principles of liberty, human dignity and individual freedom. Despite the self-evident goodness of such an approach to life, there are forces ˗ malevolent, rapacious and oppressive of such an approach to life that are aggressively contesting the way we live. Make no mistake, these forces motivated by the most base instincts of man will attempt to impose their will on all ˗ their brand of impression and intolerance."
The service members who were added to the wall all made the ultimate sacrifice over the last year while supporting USASOC operations in Afghanistan.
"Freedom is not free," Cleveland said. "Our cost this past year was seven. The year before was 18 and before that 19; since 1950, 1195 souls. Individual freedoms are what make the sacrifices of each individual Soldier critical, recognizable to those who love liberty. It is why we remember on plaques, on walls and on statues, and fields of flags around this country and in liberal democracies around the world, the sacrifices of our individual citizens who have given all to defend such a gift."
During the ceremony, USASOC leaders called the names of 11 service members, four who gave their lives in the previous year, while the audience quietly looked on during the somber occasion. Following the calling of the names, USASOC leaders placed wreaths in front of the wall in honor of the fallen Soldiers.
The laying of the wreath, which is common in memorial ceremonies, is a time-honored tradition. In the ancient societies of the Egyptians, the Chinese and the Hebrews, the evergreens of the wreath were symbols of a continuance of life and the shape of the wreath is that of a circle ˗ as a symbol of immortality.
Following the laying of the wreaths, Cleveland reminded the Gold Star Family Members that their loved ones' sacrifices will not be forgotten.
"The young men and women on this wall are the heroes in this journey," he said. "They will never be forgotten. They live on in us, not just the names that are on the wall but in the stories that we tell each other, the names we give our children, the tattoos we ink and the shared memories and experiences that shape who we are and what we do with the rest of our lives.
As his speech came to a close, he then praised the brave men and women of USASOC who have given their lives so that the oppressed may one day have freedom.
"Let us be inspired by those we honor today and their families," Cleveland said. "To forever be a force for good in the world. To build, to educate, to heal and protect in order that others less fortunate know the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; ultimately that they might join us in defending these most precious gift. We Soldiers live our Army's Special Operations promise to this great country: I protect the nation without fear, without fail, without equal. We are proud of who we are, what we do, and with whom we do it. Sine Pari."