Fort Knox, Ky. — Fort Knox held its annual Memorial Day service at the Main Post Cemetery May 31 to honor the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.
The ceremony included a 21-gun salute performed by members from 19th Engineer Battalion, a fallen Soldier table and remembrance ceremony and flag folding performed by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command color guard, as well as a wreath laying led by 84th Training Command and a performance by the 100th Army Band.
Brigadier Gen. Hope Rampy, the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army, who also serves as commander of the U.S. Army Physical Disability Agency and executive director of the Military Postal Service Agency, spoke at the ceremony.
“This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” said Rampy. “One hundred years ago, our nation laid to rest an unidentified American who fell in the first World War. Likewise, the Fort Knox cemetery has honored our veterans since 1921.
“One hundred years ago, in June 1921, the first veteran was laid to rest here at Fort Knox Main Post Cemetery.”
Rampy remarked on the importance of everyone interred in the cemetery.
“Every headstone has a story behind it, representing the life of someone’s father, brother, mother, sister,” Rampy said. “I choose not to remember how they gave their life, but instead to celebrate their lives.”
Fort Knox is the final resting place of more than 3,500 people buried in 118 cemeteries. Memorial Day is the only day they are open to visitation by the public.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, families and friends gathered at the grave sites of their loved ones to pay their respects.
Lesley Dennis and her sister, Sarah Heck, were there to visit their grandfather, Louis Earl Miles, an airman first class in the U.S. Air Force.
“He was very special to us,” Dennis said. “He meant so much.”
She brought her two young sons, Henry and Samuel, with her to the ceremony.
Lieutenant Col. Laura C. Bellot, a professor of Military Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia who is visiting Fort Knox, said she was thankful to have the opportunity to attend the ceremony.
“Memorial Day is special to me because I served and I continue to serve,” said Bellot; “and I think about my peers who aren’t here.”
Retired infantryman Michael Pesko, Jr., who served as both an enlisted Soldier and commissioned officer, explained what Memorial Day means to him.
“Armed Forces Day honors Soldiers, folks who are still in uniform. Veteran’s Day honors those who are no longer in uniform,” said Pesko. “Memorial Day honors those who never lived to take the uniform off.”
Editor’s Note: For more photos of the ceremony, go to the Fort Knox official Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/armyrotc/albums/72157719323510982.