FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane addressed a crowd of about 100 people gathered at Alexandria's Mount Comfort Cemetery for its annual Memorial Day Celebration Monday.

For the fourth year, Boy Scout Troop 993, out of Wesley United Methodist Church, handled color guard duties, presenting and retiring the national flag.

Participation in the ceremony was two years in the making for two Fort Belvoir Elementary School 5th-graders. Webelos Brayden Butikofer and Alexander Robles, said they had to earn the Arrow of Light Award before they were eligible. According to the Earning the award required them to have garnered the Webelos badge and at least eight activity badges, and to have planned and lead a flag ceremony for their den that included U.S. flag.

Sgt. 1st Class Ross Eastman II of Fort Belvoir's Chaplains' Office blessed the event's Wall of Remembrance, a wall reserved for people to place cards bearing the names of loved ones who died in military service to the nation.

Berhane thanked Eastman for bearing witness to the Army's commitment to the Year of the NCO and joining him in honoring those who "demonstrated the courage to go in harm's way, put service before self and paid with their lives."

In his remarks, Berhane, a three-time combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, focused his audience on the meaning of the day.

"Freedom is great, but it comes at a price. And the fallen Soldier, Airman, Marine, Coast Guard, and Seaman have paid it for you," he said.
"On this memorial day we honor and celebrate our military for giving the last full measure of devotion to our country," Berhane continued. "We thank them for our country. We thank them for our freedom, and we thank them for their sacrifice. We shall never forget them, or fail to honor them.

"As we continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I urge each one of you to keep our servicemembers, including civilians, in your thoughts and prayers."

In closing he reminded the audience they could further honor those who died to preserve the nation's liberty by taking the time to observe the National Moment of Remembrance, a moment of silence established in 2000 and held at 3 p.m. local time each Memorial Day, and invited them to join him in venerating the fallen in the fight for freedom to "make it clear we are committed to its preservation whatever the cost."