FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The roaring of cannons, melancholy sound of Taps and the patriotic colors waving through the skies at half-staff, marked this year’s observance of Memorial Day at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin.
NTC Commanding General, Brig. Gen. David Lesperance provided remarks in front of about hundred people in person, as well as thousands of others who were watching online on Facebook.com/NTCFortIrwin.
“When you consider that more than 1 million men and women died throughout the span of our nation’s history in service to our country, how can we not take the time and make the effort to adapt and recognize today and the contributions of so many American men and women,” he said.
Those in attendance were kept at a distance but were still able to hear through the speakers provided and watch from across the street from the National Training Center Headquarters.
“While we’re not able to celebrate in typical fashion this year, this is indeed a solemn tribute to the fallen,” Lesperance said.
The ceremony consisted of a 21-Cannon Salute from the Operations Group’s Wolf Team, the playing of Taps and Amazing Grace and the lowering and raising of the American Flag from half-mast.
“From the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the American Revolution, soldiers continuously put true welfare of the nation, the Army and their fellow soldiers before their own,” Lesperance said. “In our Army, our greatest asset is our people— our all-volunteer Army and the military families who support us is a credit to all Americans.”
On Memorial Day, May 25, the 142 national cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs were open today to the public, but visitors had to wear masks if required by local rules. No large ceremonies were held this year and there was no mass placement of flags on gravesites. Arlington National Cemetery, operated by the U.S. Army, was closed to the public but open to family pass holders.
“This is why we honor the fallen— the shared bonds of hardship, love of country, selfless service and realization that the freedoms we have today, the freedoms that many in the world strive for, are because of our fallen heroes,” Lesperance said.