Fort Jackson National Cemetery holds Memorial Day service
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Hundreds of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, their families, and other civilians gathered at Fort Jackson National Cemetery to pay tribute to the nearly 12,000 soldiers buried there, as well as the thousands of other soldiers across the U.S. and the world.
Fort Jackson’s Commanding General, Brigadier General Jason Kelly, led today’s ceremony, saying, “We must honor the humanity beneath our war memorials and grave markers by learning from their sacrifice, not only today, but every day.”
Kelly reminded those in attendance of the numbers of Americans lost to war — with over 400,000 Americans killed in World War II, over 58,000 in the Vietnam War, over 36,000 in the Korean War, over 4,500 in the War in Iraq, and over 2,400 during the War in Afghanistan.
Kelly says we must never forget the individuals behind those numbers who had their own hopes and dreams.
“The parents that have opted to bring their children out today, they got a lesson, and I hope that they will take with them, that freedom is not free, and that we all have a responsibility and today we’re honoring those that paid the ultimate price for the freedom that we enjoy,” Kelly says.
For Colonel Jason Edwards with the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, Memorial Day is personal.
“I think of friends. An individual that I replaced as a platoon leader and as a station operator, we lost him in Iraq in 2003. So, very very sad. But it makes me think of those teammates that are not here anymore,” says Edwards.
Administrative Officer with Fort Jackson National Cemetery, Harold Rice, says people that visit show a range of emotions when visiting a loved one’s grave.
“Well, we give them space and allow them to grieve the way they want to grieve. Everybody grieves differently. Some might want a pat on the back, some may want someone to talk to, some may want to be alone, so we basically take that and let them grieve the best way they know how to grieve,” says Rice.