(Lt. Col. Keith Moore, Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs)
ROBINSON MANUEVER TRAINING CENTER, N. Little Rock, Ark.:-- Members of the Arkansas National Guard gathered at the memorial monument for those killed in action for the annual memorial ceremony to honor their colleagues who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“For many of us there are names on this wall of Soldiers we know, we worked with and deployed with - so this is a special day for many of us each year,” said Maj. Gen. William Wofford, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard.
Wofford related a story gleaned from a chaplain’s account of service with many Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan given to Families of fallen Soldiers during a recent memorial service. The chaplain said that the Soldiers took comfort in knowing three things which helped fortify their bravery to roll out on missions each day.
“First - They knew that God was with them each day. Secondly - They knew that God would not take them until it was their time. And, if it was their time – there was nothing they could do about it anyway. And thirdly – they knew that their Guard family would take care of their Families and loved ones if they were to die in combat,” said Wofford.
He added on this occasion as we gather to remember our friends and colleagues, we should also pay reverence to those whom we did not know, who also gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to continue our way of life.
The monument consists of eight concrete panels which bear the names of those killed in conflict. The eight panels represent the eight times in history that the Guard, and it militia predecessor, were called upon to defend the nation: the War with Mexico, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, the Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism.
During the ceremony a bell was rung to echo each Soldier’s name read aloud from the list on the monument. And the lone bugler sounded taps while military members rendered salutes in tribute to their fallen comrades.
Following the ceremony those who knew or were deployed with Soldiers whose names appear on the memorial approached the monument and touched the name plaques as if to shake hands one more time with a lost colleague.