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Lance Cpl. Craig Mikolas, Combat Center Honor Guard, bows his head during a prayer at a Memorial Day ceremony at Joshua Tree Memorial Park and Mortuary, May 27.

Photo by Cpl. Wililam Jackson

Combat Center participates in local celebration

31 May 2013 | Cpl. William Jackson

Memorial Day is often thought of as a time to barbecue, relax and spend an extended weekend in the sun. But for most, it is also a time to reflect on the great sacrifices that American service members have made for their country. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was created after the Civil War and to this day is meant to honor those who perished in wars both past and present.

Communities across the United States, to include the Morongo Basin area, paid their respects by planting flags, presenting wreaths and saying prayers at local cemeteries and memorial sites for fallen service members.

“We come before you today to remember,” said Cmdr. Steven R. Moses, assistant chief of staff, religious ministries, during the invocation at Twentynine Palms Memorial Cemetery. “We remember the legacy of fallen servicemen and women from every branch of the United States Armed Forces. We remember their profound sacrifice and noble service to our great nation.”

“We gather to remember a special breed of fallen warriors, many of whom are buried in this cemetery, members of the United States Marine Corps,” Moses said. “Lord, we recognize the contribution of all of our nation’s warriors and commemorate them today by setting aside a day out of our busy schedules to stop and remember. They deserve this brief moment of quiet contemplation and concentrated reflection on their contributions to the freedom we enjoy.”

Local residents honored fallen service members at the Twentynine Palms Memorial Cemetery and at the Joshua Tree Memorial Park and Mortuary Monday. Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, Combat Center Commanding General, was the guest speaker at both events.

“This day definitely reminds us of sacrifices,” Berger said. “Sacrifices of Marines and sailors, soldiers, airmen, coast guardsmen who've died in the service of our country. It’s also about the sacrifice of the wounded. As a nation we need to not ever forget that.”

Patrons from veterans associations, the Combat Center and retired personnel presented wreaths during both ceremonies.

Berger also spoke about the sacrifices of family members who bear a burden while their loved ones are deployed. He said families have a strength and unselfish attitude that too often goes unnoticed.

“It’s good that we recognize our service members, but rarely do we mention their families,” Berger continued. “The sacrifice of those whose plain white markers stand proudly, all aligned in Arlington, Normandy and all around the world, is a solid reminder that the cost of freedom is really high.”

The Combat Center’s Honor Guard fired a three shot volley, a salute to those that have passed in defense of the country. Taps played and the ceremonies came to a close.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms