‘True meaning of service above self’
Calling Monday a “day of reflection and remembrance,” Eric Brown, deputy director of the Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, Texas Veterans Land Board, was the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Museum of the Pacific War.
“Throughout the year, many events are held to honor those that served, including Veterans Day, which is a day to reflect on the service of all men and women who raised their right hands to defend freedom,” Brown said.
“But today, on the most solemn military occasion of the year, we commemorate the lives of those that made the ultimate sacrifice, and pause to reflect on the true meaning of service before self,” he said.
“Reflecting on their lives is the least we can do as a nation, for they knew that raising their right hands meant keeping the flames of freedom burning bright, at all costs, and for that we are grateful.”
He urged those attending to “take the time to reflect on what freedom truly means and rejoice in the sacrifices these patriots made.”
“America is a stronger nation because of their sacrifices; America is a safer nation because of their sacrifices and America will never forget their sacrifices,” Brown said.
As part of his presentation, Brown explained that as the state director, his responsibilities include oversight of the four State Veterans Cemeteries located in Killeen, Corpus Christi, Abilene and Mission.
Among the benefits provided to veterans and their families are burial benefits, which Brown explained ensure places of rest are available to those that served and their families.
The Veterans Land Board maintains these hallowed grounds.
“Today, as we remember those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom, let us also not forget the many souls that are interred with no known next of kin or families present to honor their lives and service,” said Brown, who is also a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force for 22 years.
Since 2015, an Unaccompanied Veterans program was instituted to ensure no veteran is ever left behind by giving proper military burial honors for those with no known next of kin or families present.
And since its inception, 113 unaccompanied souls have been provided dignified military honors.
“We will never forget the price they paid and shall always keep their memories alive,” Brown said. “As a grateful nation, we will never lose sight of the liberties and freedoms they allow us to enjoy each day.”
He ended by saying, “God bless our fallen heroes, God bless our Gold Star families and God bless the United States of America.”
The Memorial Day program on Monday opened with the posting of the colors by the Fredericksburg High School NJROTC.
Captain Roger Spencer, (USN, ret.) offered the invocation.
The Navy Information Operations Command Choir led the singing of the national anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by NJROTC Cadet Lt. Jessica Cornelius.
Dr. Rorie Cartier, director of the National Museum of the Pacific War, welcomed those attending the annual program.
A selection by the Navy Information Operations Command Choir preceded Brown’s keynote address.
Following Brown’s presentation, Cartier recognized the Memorial Wall Endowment Wreaths, and Cornelius presented the Gillespie County Veterans wreath.
The Nimitz Living History Detachment did a rifle salute and Bill Smallwood sounded Taps.
The FHS NJROTC retired the colors to conclude the program.