By Rachel Ponder, APG NewsMay 29, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Aberdeen Proving Ground leaders, veterans, local citizens and elected officials gathered to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as veterans of the past, present and future during a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Aberdeen War Memorial, in Festival Park May 28.
American Legion Post 128 conducted the ceremony in coordination with the City of Aberdeen, Veteran's of Foreign Wars Post 10028, Catholic War Veterans Post 1841 and Korean War Veterans, Post 721.
The program opened with the posting of the Colors by the Post 128 Honor Guard and the national anthem by Aberdeen Middle School.
Robert Hanson of Post 128 served as Officer of the Day and escort during the placing of wreaths in front of the War Memorial. Each of the veterans' service organizations laid a wreath to commemorate the servicemen and women who have fallen. This was followed by a moment of silent prayer, a memorial salute fired by the Post 128 Honor Guard and the playing of Taps.
Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett provided opening remarks and welcomed attendees.
APG senior leader and commander of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, served as guest speaker.
Ferrell said Memorial Day should serve as reminder that freedom is not free; it has a cost.
"Let today be a day where we celebrate the brave leadership and steadfast service of our fallen War fighters," he said.
He thanked the Aberdeen community for supporting APG for nearly 100 years. Adding that Armed Forces Week [activities held May 14 through 19], celebrated Heroes on the Home Front, he said that the Aberdeen community should also be recognized as hometown heroes.
"Our Army remains strong and vigilant drawing on the strengths, support and services of communities across America, just like Aberdeen, to prevail" Ferrell said. "I ask for your continued support."
Also that morning, Col. Orlando Ortiz offered his final comments as the APG Garrison and deputy installation commander, during the Memorial Day Tribute at the Edgewood Arsenal Cemetery on APG South (Edgewood). Ortiz turns over his command in July after three years as Garrison commander.
Ortiz praised those in attendance for taking the time to observe the true meaning of the day. He said that while Memorial Day is seen today as the holiday that "gives birth to summer," it was first observed as a day to celebrate, decorate and commemorate the lives of those who died in the service of the nation.
"There is no greater sacrifice or service to the nation than to give your life in its defense," he said.
Commenting on the word 'decoration' and its "noble past," Ortiz said that military awards/decorations were first started by Gen. George Washington as a way to award the enlisted ranks for faithful service and bravery. He said that while towns across America are decorated with red, white and blue, Soldiers and their Families are "truly the decorations of the U.S. Army."
"We owe them our lives," he said. "We must remember there was a price to pay for our freedom. Thank you for proudly displaying your pride in being Americans."
Edgewood American Legion Post 17; Abingdon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5337; Knights of Columbus Corpus Christi Council 6188; Boy Scout troops 200 and 234 and Girl Scout Troop 4230 participated in the event. A rifle team from the 20th Support Command (CBRNE) fired a salute and the Fort Meade Army Field Band Quintet provided music.
In addition, Abby Webster of Girl Scout Troop 4230 read the history of the Edgewood Arsenal Cemetery.