By Jordan Chapman, 1st Infantry Division Public AffairsJune 18, 2010
Love, pride, dedication, immortality.
Each word may have meant a little more than the other depending on the person's relationship to the fallen, but it's certain that every mother and father, sister or brother, Soldier or commander in attendance of the Victory Park Ceremony held one priority higher than the rest - remembrance.
Spc. David Lane, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, Staff Sgt. Ryan Zorn, Spc. Charles Parrish, Cpl. Tony Carrasco, Jr., Senior Airman Bradley Smith and Sgt. 1st Class Glen Whetten each had their names added to memorial stones between the Fallen Soldier Memorial and Lady Victory in Victory Park June 17, an emotional ceremony underlined by loved ones visiting the stones, touching their names and sharing memories of the past which could only be endured with the embraces and support of other Family present.
Confronted by a buffeting wind and hot sun, each person in attendance paid tribute to the fallen with music performed by the Pipe and Drum Corps presented by the Isis Shrine Temple, the laying of a wreath at the base of the Fallen Soldier Memorial, the singing of "Amazing Grace," a 21-gun salute, taps and the reading of each name.
"The patch that we wore on our shoulder pulls us all together ... we are bonded together by the Big Red One patch," said the guest speaker, retired Brig. Gen. James Shelton, explaining that he served in nine divisions throughout his career but none was ever so special as the Big Red One.
"This is the patch of sacrifice," he continued, adamant to tell why everyone must remember why such sacrifices were made.
Symbolically speaking, Shelton stated that the great men being remembered died so that our nation's flag might still wave over us, though to him, it means something different.
"Those sacrifices we honor today mean that they fought and died for the principles by which our nation stands: equality of opportunity, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all mankind," Shelton said.
The ceremony at Victory Park is an annual occurrence since the park was dedicated at Fort Riley three years ago. The stones at the park honor Big Red One service members who have paid the ultimate price during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, fallen heroes from the past 12 months are honored.