Two different services were held on Monday in honor of those who have sacrificed and died in the service of the nation. The first took place at the Fort Huachuca Cemetery early afternoon, while the second was held at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in the early evening.
Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca commanding general, delivered a Memorial Day message at each ceremony, and took the role of keynote speaker during the evening event.
“Today, we honor heroes. What is a hero? It is someone who has given his or her life to be something bigger than themselves,” Ashley said at the evening service. “These men and women to whom we pay tribute on this Memorial Day have done just that, and they share a very common bond with those Soldiers today.”
Another key point made during speeches at each service stressed how Americans have and always will honor fallen veterans, even those who are not yet located, Ashley stated.
“We are tireless in our search for the remains for missing servicemen, because it is simply the right thing to do. No matter how much time passes, we honor their sacrifice by not leaving them behind and not letting them be forgotten.”
Attendees included active-duty Soldiers, retired military, veterans, Families and members of the Sierra Vista community. For Spc. Sean Germany, 18th Military Police Detachment, Memorial Day means honoring other military Family members. Saluting the flag during the afternoon ceremony had a special meaning.
“I have a World War II [veteran] grandfather back in California who is still alive and I render the salute to him for his services,” he said.
Also in attendance at each service were dignitaries representing Congress and state and local political offices.
Congressman Ron Barber, U.S. House of Representatives, found the afternoon ceremony moving.
“I think it’s important for all of us to come together to remember those who have given their lives for our country,” he said, explaining that his father was a World War II and Korean War veteran.
Barber added how much he appreciated the reading of the Memorial Day proclamation.
“It reminds us that this memorial has been going on now for almost 150 years,” he said.
Each service honored Soldiers, veterans and retired military forces in a traditional manner. Wreaths at both locations were placed by dignitaries and guests of honor. The Fort Huachuca Select Honor Guard carried the nation’s colors and fired gun salutes at both events. At the afternoon ceremony, the firing of cannons could be heard from the Post Cemetery following the gun salute.
Veterans’ groups played a prominent role at both services. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9972 participated in the afternoon ceremony, and the Thunder Mountain Detachment 1283 of the Marine Corps League hosted the evening ceremony.
“I can’t help but think, as I look out and see countless veterans, countless insignia, sergeants major, command sergeants major, with whom I transitioned in Iraq, sergeants major from a generation ago, Green Berets, Marines, Airmen and other Soldiers, and I think about how we’re able to accomplish so much, because we stand on the shoulders of giants, and all those who came before us,” Ashley said addressing the evening service.
“For all our veterans, in fact, this is a very special day.”