A salute to sacrifice
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer, and Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
May 27, 2014, 14:39
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Post Commanders, Bob Kruckel, with American Legion Post 146, and Philip Arendsen II with VFW Post 637, carry a wreath to the monument at City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell on Memorial Day.
With the flags of the nation flying among the graves of the fallen at City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell, more than a hundred people gathered on Memorial Day to honor those who have served, those who are currently serving and those who had given their lives while serving.
Soldiers from Fort Lee attended the ceremony Monday morning as well as members of the VFW Post 637 and American Legion Post 146.
Soldiers from Fort Lee also participated in the ceremony, such as the 262 Quartermaster Battalion Choir, which sang the national anthem, “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
The 392nd Army Band also provided music before the ceremony.
Bob Kruckel, with American Legion Post 146, said the day was not only about remembering those fallen soldiers but remembering the heritage of this country.
“Ceremonies like this would not be preserved without somebody remembering what life used to be like and who we have become for life being as good as it is today,” he said. “So on this note I would like to everybody that has brought their children, little ones to big ones, and introduced them to the heritage and introduced them to what used to be.”
Brig. Gen. John O’Neil IV, 52nd Quartermaster General Commandant, with the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, provided the keynote address for the ceremony and said the day was about remembrance and rejoicing. O’Neil said not only should the fallen be remembered but those they left behind.
“Our volunteer patriots who have laid down their lives for us have left behind spouses, sons and daughters and other loved ones,” said O’Neil, who has been at Fort Lee since August 2012. “... I ask you to remember those families who are left behind.”
O’Neil also said Memorial Day was a day to give thanks for the freedoms that have been protected by the soldiers who have served.
“For those who fight and die, freedom has a taste that the protected will never know,” O’Neil said. “... We thank them for our freedom and we thank them for the sacrifice and we shall never forget them nor fail to honor them.”
As O’Neil quoted the soldiers who had served in decades past, the flags placed on the graves at the cemetery flew in the wind, marking the importance of that morning and symbolizing the message given by the brigadier general.
“Rejoice in the courage that beats in the hearts of these patriots and the steel backbone of every service member and in the selfless actions of these men and women who thought themselves ordinary but rose to meet seemingly impossible expectations to keep hope and freedom alive not just in America but throughout the world,” O’Neil said.
Kruckel, along with Philip Arendsen II, with VFW Post 637, carried a wreath to honor the fallen, which was laid at the base of the Army of the James Monument. As the wreath was laid at the base, the post commanders, along with O’Neil, saluted as “Taps” was played by Al Kyriakides and Wayne Paul, who stood among the graves, with many in the crowd holding their hands over their hearts.
ASHLEY McLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Heritage Center in Prince George on Memorial Day.
Prince George honored fallen military personnel on Memorial Day during a wreath laying ceremony at the Prince George Regional Heritage Center.
Brig. Gen. John P Sullivan, Chief of Transportation and Transportation School commandant at Fort Lee, spoke at the ceremony, encouraging those in attendance to use the holiday to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and its citizens.
“This is a day intended for all of us to take a collective pause from the business of everyday life. A collective pause in which we gives thanks to those service men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion in defense of our great nation,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan also spoke on the impact and influence these fallen soldiers have on those currently serving our country
“The service of those who have fallen while defending our nation calls upon those of us currently in uniform to live up to the example they set, during their lives, and the sacrifice they made for our nation. Their example humbles us; it calls us to greater service and commands us never to dishonor their memory,” Sullivan said.
The Honor Guard from Prince George High School participated in the event, with the J.E.J. Moore Middle School Band performing for the crowd.
Names of the servicemen and women were read during the ceremony in order to honor their memory. In attendance were Gold Star families – mothers, father, brothers, sisters, and children of those soldiers lost in battle.
Sullivan spoke to these families in attendance, ensuring that their loved ones sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“Our solemn commitment to you is that we will never, never forget your loved ones service to our nation. For the sacrifice they made on behalf of all of our citizens who enjoy the freedoms our nation bestows,” Sullivan said.
Members of the Prince George Board of Supervisors, assisted by Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from the area, placed memorial wreaths at each of the three monuments at the center to honor fallen soldiers.