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May 31, 2010 Veteran's Memorial

Pause to remember, pay respect

By Col. Robert L. Maness

377th Air Base Wing commander

The tradition of paying respect to America’s fallen service members and our Nation’s flag during a simple Retreat ceremony should come as no surprise to those living and working on a military installation.

Recently, Kirtland AFB reinstituted the military tradition of playing Retreat and Taps every day. You’ve probably heard the music coming over the Giant Voice at 5 p.m. as the National Anthem is played and at 10 p.m. each night as Taps is played. For anyone who may not understand why we play Retreat and Taps, the Memorial

Day Ceremony at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial Monday morning was a pointed reminder to pause and remember those who have given the last full measure of devotion. 

 Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was initially dedicated in 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, to remember and honor the fallen. Since then, Memorial Day has served as an opportunity to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice our men and women in uniform

have made to maintain our freedom and as a reminder that we should never forget them. At the ceremony Monday, the meaning of paying respect was reinforced as the family members of six fallen warriors were introduced. The family members were presented Memorial Bricks, Purple Heart plaques with the names of the fallen warriors inscribed, and handmade quilts. The families of these true New Mexico heroes stood tall and

proud knowing their son or husband or brother had made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

Among the families of the fallen warriors were a father and mother who had lost not one, but two sons in the war against terrorism. Also present was the baby daughter of a soldier who cried during the ceremony – a cry her father never heard since he was killed in action before she was born.

 A Memorial Day commemorated when so many of our fellow Airmen are deployed and in harm’s way gives special meaning to military tradition and paying respect. No one knows how long we will continue to deploy our Airmen to Afghanistan or Iraq and other places, but in honor of those currently deployed and those who went before them, the greatest tribute we can pay is to pause for a minute or two every day at 5 p.m. as the National

Anthem is played and pay our respects not only to our flag but to those who have defended it.

 When we pay our respects during Retreat, we recognize a military tradition and remember our fellow service members. This is just a small gesture that we can all take pride in doing — for those who have served and continue to serve and for that mother and father who lost two sons and the baby daughter of a fallen warrior

whose cries he will never hear. We should never forget their sacrifices.

 Team Ki r t land volunteers participated in the parade of state flags during the Memorial Day observance at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial. A large audience gathered May 31 to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Family members of New Mexico fallen warriors arrive for the Memorial Day ceremony May 31 at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial.