While Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have died in service to our country, at least one soldier sees it as a call to ready ourselves to meet challenges of the future.
And Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams said success over the last decade in the war on terrorism shows that is what the military is doing today.
“For over an unprecedented 11 years, our nation’s all-volunteer force has been engaged in an era of persistent conflict against violent extremism. Iraq today is on a path toward a more stable democracy, and each day — along with our coalition partners — we are making advances to ensure a sustainable and secure Afghanistan that no longer harbors terrorists,” the commander of the 3rd Infantry division and Fort Stewart said at a Memorial Day ceremony Monday.
He was the guest speaker at the Hinesville American Legion Post 168’s ceremony. More than 200 people attended the ceremony, which was moved inside because of the threat of rain.
Abrams said the start of the war on terrorism is what sparked his understanding of Memorial Day.
“Not even my participation in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm in 1991 had the impact you might think,” the general said. “But that all changed for me personally on Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent start of combat operations in Afghanistan.
“On the following year on Memorial Day of 2002, that’s when people that I knew — people I had served with — were being remembered as having made the ultimate sacrifice in what all of us in uniform at that time knew as the beginning of a long war.”
And like his personal experience, the sacrifices made by soldiers are not some abstract concept for residents around Fort Stewart.
“From the graves at Arlington National Cemetery to right out here at Warriors Walk, there are countless reminders that freedom is not free,” Abrams said.
Retired Sgt. Maj.Roy Owens, commander of the American Legion Post in Hinesville, agreed with Abrams sentiment.
“It’s our day to pay respect and homage to our veterans who sacrificed all for our freedom,” the 25-year Army veteran said.