By Public Affairs StaffJune 2, 2016
Fort Leonard Wood service members, civilians and Family members paid honor to the fallen, during several Memorial Day ceremonies conducted Monday throughout the area.
During a morning ceremony at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery on H Highway near Polla Road, senior leaders and community leaders paid their respect to the service members lost in combat.
Following an opening prayer by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Paulson, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood, Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, spoke to the assembled crowd on the true meaning of Memorial Day.
"There are many veterans among us today, including me, but today is not our day of recognition. Today is the day we honor and remember the lives, the courage, the legacies and the service of those who left home, but did not return," Savre said.
"Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War to honor the unimaginable number of fallen Soldiers the country endured during those four long and gruesome years, and now, 150 years after inception, from Arlington National Cemetery to the smallest towns across the country, millions of Americans are gathering today for ceremonies and parades to honor all who have fallen in battle, fighting to preserve our way of life, and today, as a nation, we humbly say 'thank you -- we remember,'" he said.
Savre continued and said this day and this ceremony, reminds all of us that freedom isn't free. It comes with a hefty price, and so much is owed to the generations of heroes who gave everything they had -- not for glory or gratitude, but for something greater than themselves.
"Before I leave you today, I'd just like to say how truly amazing it is to stand here and look out at all of you who made the effort to attend this ceremony -- the community that we have, both on Fort Leonard Wood and in the surrounding area, really speaks to the patriotism and support our service members and veterans experience every day, right here in the heart of America," Savre said.
In St. James, Missouri, at the Missouri Veterans Home, Brig. Gen. James Bonner, U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School commandant, spoke to the residents of the home, Family members, friends and the home's staff regarding how a community comes together and remembers those departed.
"I believe it's very fitting that we all come together as a community on Memorial Day. I say this because the connection between the community and Fort Leonard Wood has always been strong. As a community, we share the same love of country; a country that stands for freedom, not tyranny; liberty, not subjugation; justice, not injustice. We also share the same understanding that the liberties we enjoy in the country have come with a heavy price -- a price that cannot be repaid or compensated -- a price that sadly many of you know all too well," Bonner said.
Bonner said the fallen heroes of this nation gave everything to protect the ideals that built this country. He went on to say that those veterans in attendance were part of that protection and how each of them were part of the greater good to secure freedom and liberty for today and future generations.
"There's a quote Gen. George S. Patton made toward the end of World War II that I'd like to share. It goes "Let us not mourn that such men died, but rejoice that such men lived.' And rejoice we should. Because of them we have been resilient in meeting the challenges of war and safeguarding the ideals this nation was founded on," Bonner said.
The 554th Engineer Battalion provided an honor guard for the ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery and the Noncommissioned Officers Academy provided a joint services color guard for the occasion.
The 399th Army Band provided trumpeters for the playing of "Taps" at both locations.
In addition to Bonner's comments, Company E, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, posted the nation's colors and presented a wreath in honor of those veterans who passed away during the past year, and Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Miller, 3rd Chemical Brigade chaplain, provided invocation and benediction for the St. James services.