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NEWS | May 23, 2018

Honoring fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice

By Beverly Joyner 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Community members and Gold Star families gathered together to honor fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice at the Bronze Cross Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 19, 2018.

In lieu of the actual bronze statue located at Fort Eustis’ Magnolia Park, a Bronze Cross Memorial table display was set up in the center of the stage at Wylie Theater. The display represents the traditional battle cross, showing a Soldier’s helmet perched on a rifle and flanked by a pair of combat boots.

“We’ve come here to salute all of those who have died in our nation’s wars,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Juan Crockett, TRADOC Initial Military Training chaplain. “With them and their families, we carry this loss of our brothers and sisters in our hearts that are, at times, very heavy.”

Serving as a permanent tribute to those who gave their lives and service to our nation, the Bronze Cross memorial monument was initially unveiled on May 14, 2016 at Magnolia Park.

“While this is predominantly an Army installation, the monument is not meant for soldiers alone,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Benenati, Training and Doctrine Command deputy chief of staff. “Fallen Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, defense department civilians and all of their families, Gold Star families – they all own a piece of that memorial at Magnolia Park.”

Inviting Gold Star family members to stand and receive a round of applause, Benenati extended a special welcome to those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, and spoke of his respect, admiration, and pride in honoring them for their contributions and sacrifices.

Beginning with the flags or banners first flown by families during World War I, the term “Gold Star family” derived from blue stars that represented immediate family members serving in the armed forces during periods of war or hostilities. If that loved one died a gold star replaced the blur star, a reminder to the community of the price the family paid for the cause of freedom.

Representing Gold Star family members, Renice Zimmerman assisted Benenati with laying a wreath at the table display to honor fallen heroes, symbolizing that we will never forget them.

“Let us pause to reflect on the sacrifices of all of those who have put on the uniform and served the United Stated military,” said Benenati. “We must always be here to honor and serve those families that have given a piece of their heart to our nation.”

The ceremony featured musical selections, the playing of Taps and a final salute to pay respect to fallen brothers and sisters in arms.