“Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to stop and honor those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation and pay a well-deserved tribute to those who ensured for us the freedoms that we enjoy today.”
Col. Nicole Lucas
JBLM Garrison commander
This year on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Memorial Day was observed by nearly 300 people Monday with a public ceremony at the Camp Lewis Cemetery.
Colonel Nicole Lucas, JBLM Garrison commander, laid a wreath in remembrance of unknown and missing service members before reminding the crowd of the true meaning and reason for Memorial Day — the cost of war in lives.
“Ever since eight members of the Lexington militia lost their lives in the first battle of the American Revolution, nearly 1.2 million service members — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — have made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
The day is often filled with backyard barbecues, beach trips and bargain sales, Lucas said — but that’s not what Memorial Day or the holiday represents.
“Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to stop and honor those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation and pay a well-deserved tribute to those who ensured for us the freedoms that we enjoy today,” she said. “It is our sacred duty to ensure they are not lost to history. And it is up to us to share their stories so that America never forgets the price and we never stop appreciating their sacrifice and the gift of freedom.”
After the 21-gun salute and playing of taps, attendees strolled through the green lawn, pausing at white tombstones to read names and details of those who gave their lives in service of the nation.
Among those attending were Mark and Shannan Jones, both Department of Defense employees, and their children, Cody, 6, and Haley, 4. Nearly every year since the children were born, the family visits JBLM on Memorial Day, Shannan Jones said.
The children, wearing patriotic colors, read the names of the fallen before placing fresh red roses in remembrance.
“We just want them to understand the true meaning of Memorial Day, and having a (grandfather) who served, we’ve seen a lot and know some family members that have lost their lives and friends of family,” Jones said. “We want them to understand the sacrifice that people have made so that we can raise our family here in this great country.”
Across the lawn, the Miller family gathered for the same reason and placed their hands atop the cool, white stone. Cassidy, 3, Alexander, 5, Mathew, 12, and Jennifer, 15, joined their parents, Brandon Miller, a retiree, and Sgt. Cherylyn Miller, of the 175th Transportation Company, 385th Transportation Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Pier 23 in Tacoma.
“I think (the meaning of Memorial Day) is forgotten,” said Sgt. Cherylyn Miller. “We need to explain to our children this is why we’re here. This is why mom and dad did what we did. This is why my dad did what he did. Honestly, I think we need to remember. We need to have our children remember and understand like what (Col. Lucas) said, Memorial Day is not for barbecues.”