ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- U.S. Army Sustainment Command Soldiers reached out across western Illinois and eastern Iowa during Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute to Service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

ASC Soldiers gave speeches, conducted presentations and participated in ceremonies and memorial services while representing the command and the Army.

Silvis, Illinois

The city of Silvis held its annual Memorial Day event at Hero Street Memorial Park, May 23. The event began with the singing of the national anthem by the Chordbusters, followed by a moment of silence and welcome remarks from Silvis Mayor Tom Conrad.

Brig. Gen. Kristin French, commanding general, Joint Munitions Command, was the keynote speaker.

"This Memorial Day should remind us of the greatness that past generations of Americans achieved and reflect on the sacrifices they made so that we can be free," she said. "We must honor the memory of our fallen by learning from their lives -- not only today, but every day and every year."

After French's remarks, there was a ceremonial wreath laying. The Mexican American Veterans Association provided a 21-gun salute and played taps.

Davenport, Iowa

The historic Summit Church held its 96th annual Memorial Day service May 25, in Davenport, Iowa. The service was sponsored by the Scott County Historical Society; American Legion Post 639 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6174 -- both of Eldridge, Iowa.

Col. Donald Mayer, chief of staff, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, was the keynote speaker.

"We observe Memorial Day because of the lives that were lost," he said. "We observe because of the sacrifices that were made and the costs that were paid, because of our sacred duty to those who died while doing their duty on our behalf."

The service began with a presentation of the U.S. colors by the American Legion Post 639, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem and a selection of patriotic songs which included audience participation. Members of the church also read aloud a roll call of veterans from the local community who have passed away, dating back to the Civil War.

"It's wonderful to have a uniformed Service member speak at our service," said Thomas Knapper, president, Scott County Historical Society.

"I think it sends a very powerful message. These men and women serve for love of country, and they communicate those sentiments through their speeches, which is very important for our community."

Outside in the cemetery next to the church, some attendees placed ornaments by the headstones of veterans. The American Legion and VFW participants gave a salute by firing line, followed by two buglers playing taps.

Cambridge, Illinois

A crowd of approximately 150 people gathered in Cambridge, Illinois, for its Memorial Day event, May 25. The event began at the Cambridge Community Hall and, following a two-block group walk, ended with a service at Veterans' Memorial Park.

1st Sgt. Previn G. Parker of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, provided the address during the event. During his speech, he thanked the crowd for taking the time to come out to honor those who have fought and died for Americans' freedom.

"These are losses that must never be minimized and above all must never ever be denied," said Parker.

Galva, Illinois

The city of Galva held a Memorial Day commemoration at the Galva cemetery, May 25. The event was hosted by American Legion Post 45.

Col. Elmer Speights, commander, U.S. Army Garrison -- Rock Island Arsenal was the keynote speaker.

Donahue, Iowa

John Glenn Elementary School served as the site for this year's Memorial Day observance in Donahue, held May 25 beginning at 10 a.m.

The annual observance was scheduled to be held at Allens Grove Cemetery outside Donahue, but was moved indoors to the school due to wet grounds and the threat of more rain.

An estimated 70 people attended the observance, filling the chairs set up in the school's gymnasium with some standing along the back wall.

American Legion Post 532 in Donahue hosted the observance and provided an honor guard and bugler. Post commander Fred Van Hoosier served as master of ceremonies. Post chaplain Tina Arns provided the invocation, which was followed by a wreath laying.

Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Bryant of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command was guest speaker. Bryant serves as ASC's top non-commissioned officer.

Bryant told the audience that, while many Americans will head to the movie theaters on Memorial Day weekend to see films celebrating the exploits of comic-book heroes, the nation's truest heroes are those who were being honored at the observance.

"The brave Americans who sacrificed their lives for our great nation are real heroes who made real contributions and paid a very real cost for their courageous actions," Bryant said. "These are heroes who tower above anything produced by Hollywood -- heroes who should inspire us more than anything we've ever seen on a movie screen or read in a book."

Bryant said that about 1.3 million Americans have given their lives in military service and noted that about the same number are currently serving today on active duty.

"They are the national heroes of today. They all volunteered to serve, and are all risking their own lives to keep this nation strong and free," Bryant said. "I am truly humbled and honored to count myself among their number, and I proudly wear the same uniform of service that is worn today by so many other amazing, courageous people."

During the observance, Jakob Nelson, a fifth-grade student at John Glenn Elementary, read his essay entitled "What the American Flag Means to Me." Jakob's essay placed first in a contest held at the school and was the third-place finisher in an American Legion district-wide contest.

The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps in the school's parking lot.
Following the observance, a potluck luncheon was held at Post 352's hall, which is located in a building that once served as the site of a one-room schoolhouse.

Larry M. Gronewold Post 532 in Donahue is named in honor of a local resident killed in action in Vietnam on March 25, 1968. Pfc. Larry Marshall Gronewold was only 22 at the time of his death.

Macomb, Illinois

Sgt. Maj. Brian Marone, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, spoke at the American Legion Post 6 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1921 Memorial Day ceremony in Macomb, Illinois, on May 25. Marone serves as the sergeant major of the Distribution Management Center.

About 100 people filled the building to participate in the event. Marone greeted two Gold Star family members and reminded the audience that it is important to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep our great nation free.

The ceremony included a reading of the necrology by Mayor Mike Inman, Macomb, and Master Sgt. Todd Robertson, Western Illinois University, laying of wreaths, an honor guard salute and playing of taps.

Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois

Approximately 1,200 people attended the Rock Island National Cemetery Memorial Day event at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, May 25.

Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, provided the keynote speech.

"Their silent presence pervades this cemetery and should humble all those who visit it," he said. "We remember them for their deeds, not their words, and there is nothing we can say that will bring them more esteem than they've already earned."

The event included musical performances by the CASI New Horizons Band and the 16th Avenue Singers from Logan Elementary School, Moline, Illinois. Becky Lee Hinton, Rock Island, Illinois, sang the national anthem and Rev. Dr. Roger Perry, Christ United Methodist Church, East Moline, Illinois, provided the invocation. Scott Lamb, Rock Island National Cemetery director, provided the Memorial Day address.

American Legion Post 246 provided the 21-gun salute and the Rock Island Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 299 provided the echo honor salute. Soldiers from A Battery, 2-123rd Field Artillery Battalion, fired the national salute and John Adams, Davenport American Legion Post 26, played taps.

Preston and Miles, Iowa

The communities of Preston and Miles combined their Memorial Day activities for the first time, officials said. Tompkins-Jenkins American Legion Post 602, Miles Spencer-Cook American Legion Post 677, and American Veterans Post 140 conducted the ceremonies, May 25.

The two communities' combined population is about 1,500. They are within five miles of each other.
Heavy winds and rain shortened the activities at Preston Cemetery, consisting of prayer, raising of the colors, wreath laying, firing salute and playing of taps.

Afterward, people gathered in the Preston Town Hall for a service that featured Lt. Col. Brad Cook, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, as the guest speaker. Cook is the interim director of Information Management (G-6).

Cook focused his remarks on what he called the "real heroes" of society -- those who gave their lives while wearing the military service uniform.

"I speak, of course, of the heroes we honor today on Memorial Day -- the brave Americans who sacrificed their lives for our great nation, who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and who have thus earned our continued gratitude, recognition and remembrance," Cook said to attendees.
Following the indoor ceremony, a small parade made its way to the town's flag pole for raising of the flag, national anthem, firing salute and taps.

At Preston's legion hall, a luncheon was held. On the wall were many newspaper clippings of fallen community members. One was of Pvt. William Tompkins of Preston. He volunteered to become a Marine and fight in World War I.

Tompkins arrived overseas in the fall of 1917 and went through some fierce fighting against the German army at the front.

In parts of his letters to home, he wrote: "… just going through two weeks of hell, taking lots of prisoners, machine guns, etc. Under shrapnel fire and of 48 hours with practically no food, and gas attacks and shelling every minute … put in seven days where it was next to impossible to get food and water … no blankets, damp ground and cold."

Tompkins was killed in action Oct. 9, 1918.

East Moline, Illinois

The American Legion Post 227 held a Memorial Day event in East Moline, Illinois, May 25. The event began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Robert Baecke. After a performance of the national anthem on bugle by Nathan Brackevelt, a United Township High School student, Post 227 welcomed East Moline Mayor, John Thodos.

Brig. Gen. Kristin French, commanding general, Joint Munitions Command, was the keynote speaker.

"We are all gathered together to commemorate Memorial Day and honor many great American heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country," she said. "I hope you will remember our fallen comrades and their families far beyond today, far beyond this ceremony."

The event ended with a somber performance of taps by Brackevelt.

Moline, Illinois

Approximately 50 people attended the Moline American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars consolidated Memorial Day event at the VFW Post 2153, May 25.

Lt. Col. Frank Gilbertson, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans (G-5), provided the keynote speech.
"During wartime, every military family lives in perpetual fear of the knock on the door," he said. "There are men and women here, and across the country, whose lives have never been the same after that knock. But, amazingly they carry on each day with a void they can never really fill."

Seated at the head table were Richard Head, commander, VFW Post 2153, and Jack Smith, commander, American Legion Post 246. Smith provided opening remarks and introduced Gilbertson.

Following Gilbertson's remarks, the ceremony transitioned outdoors for a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps provided by the American Legion.