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NEWS | May 31, 2017

Gone but never forgotten: Community honors fallen heroes

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. service members, veterans and local community members gathered to honor fallen service members during a Memorial Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, May 29, 2017.

During the ceremony, retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ricky Shiloh spoke of how fallen military members still serve today’s society.

“Men and women buried in these cemeteries across the country would be proud of their posthumous service,” said Shiloh. “They continue to serve by bringing all of us and others across America together no matter what race, gender or political affiliation. We are here and united together to pay respect and forever be grateful for their sacrifice.”

The Memorial Day Observance originated from Observance Day, a tradition which began to honor U.S. service members who died during the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, Grand Army of the Republic national commander, in his General Order No. 11.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. “In this observance, no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

During the Hampton ceremony, service members from each branch laid ceremonial wreaths on the gravesites, rendering a salute to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, prisoners of war and those missing in action who served in conflicts around the world.

Additionally, a roll call was conducted, asking veterans from all conflicts dating back to World War II to stand and receive recognition, followed by a moment of silence for fallen World War I military members who have long since passed.

More than 130 ceremonies across the nation hosted Memorial Day ceremonies this year, including Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, where President Donald Trump laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.