I was very impressed with the Memorial Day Service which was hosted at the McKinley County Magistrate Courthouse footsteps earlier this morning. As a soldier attending the event, I glimpsed around at the crowd and felt honored with great pride at seeing not just our local veterans standing proud, but also the local Gallup community. These people, seeing them come together to honor their fallen family members and pay respect and homage to others who gave their lives for our freedom.
As a soldier, I can say that events like this give our military the strength and courage to endure the hardships we face. There were many times where I felt like after we lost a comrade out on the front lines in battle, we, the soldiers remembered them, but that would be it. Not today. Through carefully planned out coordination, the main speaker ensured that every fallen soldier from Gallup, Mexico and the surrounding area was mentioned. He included soldiers from both World Wars, the Korean War, and Viet Nam to name a few. No one was left out.
It feels like our military service is taken for granted sometimes. It feels like we are sometimes unappreciated. This is to be expected I feel, because we have been at war with Iraq and Afghanistan for over ten years now. Services like today remind us soldiers of our fallen comrades and loved ones while also re-enstilling in our minds that our work, our current duties are not forgotten and are not taken for granted.
During the singing of the National Anthem, the main speaker requested that all the Veterans–past and current–stand in a formation for everyone attending to see. I stood in that formation. I stood proud in a formation with people whom I have never met, but shared at least one thing in common; We were all brothers. No matter what war we fought in, we all shared a common trait. We shared the horrors and reality of war. We shared the joy of knowing we served the American People when the Nation needed us most. We each had a story to tell. Stories that I hope will never go untold or unheard.
There were many different generations of war veterans as well as many different branches of service such as the Marines and Air Force. Most were from Viet Nam however there were a few from our newest engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The closing of the ceremony ended with a twenty one gun salute while the ever so familiar sound of TAPS played. I noticed that many of our Veterans as well as myself all shared a tear, standing at attention, saluting those whom were lost in times past. God bless, our names are not etched on that wall. God bless even more those who are. The ones who paid the price in blood, giving us that right and ability to stand there in today’s ceremony. You will NOT be forgotten!