FORT KNOX, Ky. — A large crowd gathered at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central on May 30 to join Fort Knox in remembering and saluting their loved ones during Memorial Day.
The ceremony opened with the National Anthem played by 100th Army Band (USAR) and a prayer by Chaplain (Maj.) Patrick Kihiu. Following the prayer, members of by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command (HRC) Honor Guard performed a POW/MIA Table ceremony.
Major Gen. Johnny Davis, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, spoke of honoring fallen Soldiers.
“As a Soldier, today means a lot,” Davis said. “It means a great deal to speak at an event that honors the great Americans who gave their lives in defense of our nation.”
Davis delivered a brief history of Memorial Day, which began after the Civil War and was originally called Decoration Day. In those first ceremonies, Families remembered their loved ones by decorating gravesites with flowers or flags, which became a tradition still observed today.
“Memorial Day is a day of national awareness and solemn reverence; a day for us to honor the military men and women who gave their lives,” Davis said. “Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to stop and think about the brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Davis expressed appreciation to Gold Star families, who lost loved ones serving in combat.
“We are humbled by your sacrifice, inspired by your resilience, and grateful for your continued service to your communities,” Davis said.
Davis also commemorated the Vietnam War and those who fought in it, in honor of the 50th anniversary of that war. Davis highlighted two men who had a profound impact in his life, including their service in the Vietnam War.
Davis concluded his speech with a call to action to honor fallen Soldiers.
“We can honor them by participating in the National Moment of Remembrance, a call to voluntarily and informally pause at 3 p.m. local time today to reflect upon and remember those who died in service to our nation.”
The Ceremony also included a flag fold by the honor guard, a 21-gun salute, the laying of a wreath, and the playing of taps and an Armed Forces medley by the Fort Knox-based band. The ceremony closed with a benediction by Kihiu.
Many retired and current military members attended the ceremony.
Radcliff, Kentucky resident Christopher Love served in the Army in the military police corps from 1974 to 1994. He said the importance of Memorial Day is to remember all the fallen brothers and sisters who never made it home.
Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Kershaw said Memorial Day has personal significance to him, having lost some friends along the way in direct combat or combat-related illnesses and injuries.
“The significance of Memorial Day is paying tribute to those [who] have lost their lives in combat and served our country for the freedoms that we have today.”