Hampton VA Medical Center
Gathering to Honor and Remember
On the last Monday in May, Americans gather for Memorial Day to remember those men and women of the armed forces who sacrificed their lives in defense our Nation.
"Memorial Day is about taking time to recognize, reflect upon and learn from the heroic sacrifices of those who gave their lives in defense of our Nation," said Janice Hill, Hampton National Cemetery director, as she stood before more than 300 attendees at the ceremony.
Originally know as Decoration Day, the holiday dates back to the 1860s, when it was a day of remembrance for those who died during the Civil War. By the 10th century, it had become a general day of commemoration for fallen Veterans of all American wars.
The Hampton National Cemetery, located in Hampton, Va., dates back to one of the first cemeteries that had burials that took place as early as 1862 and is among numerous national cemeteries with origins that date to the Civil War.
"It is important to recall the sacrifices of so many as we gather on this national holiday that more than 1.4 million of our fellow citizens are on active duty standing watch worldwide,” said David K Schettler, deputy under secretary for Management, Department of Veterans Affairs, during his keynote address.
The event featured performances from the U.S. Fleet Forces Band of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., a 21-gun salute from Joint Service Rifle Team and Presentation of Colors coordinated by Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Fort Eustis, Va., and official wreath laying with representatives from the Department of Defense services and the VA.
"I really enjoy coming to these types of ceremonies,” said LTJG Greenough, USS Theodore Roosevelt, (CVN 71). “It means a lot to me as a military member to be able to give back and recognize those who came before me."
Greenough, one of the representatives from the Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and VA who participated in the wreath laying portion of the ceremony, stood at attention and saluted the patriotic greenery and ribbons after placing the wreath in front of a grave marker.
“Please continue to visit our National Cemeteries and to bring your children and grandchildren,” Schettler told the audience in conclusion. “Paying your respects here will ensure, as President Garfield said, that ‘no heroic sacrifice is ever lost.’ "