Good morning ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming out this morning to attend this memorial for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that have fallen during battle. It is with great honor that I provide you with a few comments to help remember those individuals on this special day, Memorial Day 2016.
25 years ago, as a seasoned First Lieutenant, I stood before a battalion of soldiers during a pause on the battle field in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. The pause was necessary to provide a brief memorial for those that we had lost in the previous 72 hours. I say necessary because, the battalion had to move on. We had our next mission and we all understood that those of us left living must continue the fight. It was our duty to continue the fight because we were Soldiers. Yet, to move on to the next mission, we knew we must be able to collectively put our soldiers to rest.
Understanding, we were operating under battlefield conditions, a military funeral was not appropriate. For these instances, US Army organizations conduct memorial services on the battlefield. The services consist of a short eulogy from unit leaders, a prayer service by the battalion chaplain and a final roll call.
The final Roll Call is specifically conducted within a unit as a memorial for fallen comrades. The call is conducted in front of a rifle, boots, helmet and dog tags erected for each soldier lost. The name of the deceased is called 3 times for the final role call of a unit while in formation. The silence in response to the soldier’s name called 3 times during the “Final Role Call” is formal recognition for the permanent loss of a member within the unit.
Today, we remember all those individuals that have fallen on our Nation’s battle fields. Not that we don’t remember them every day, but it is very important to come together as a family….families of veterans , like us soldiers came together on the battlefield to honor the memory of our fallen comrades in arms.
It is important to us, as a nation, to carry on the fight that our fallen comrades so gallantly provided their lives for. And, in order to do that, we gather, just as we gathered during the final roll call on the battlefields far away from home as our nation called us to be.
So, I join you to remember those who are no longer with us and celebrate Memorial Day in memory of their sacrifice. We, through them, know first hand, freedom is not free.
We do and always will remember their ultimate sacrifice with humble gratitude as we come together on this and every Memorial Day.
Thank you very much for attending…God Bless the United States of America.