Big Bear Lake, Calif. -- Celebrations honoring the fallen soldiers of the Civil War began the year after the war ended in 1866. Once known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday meant to unify the celebration as a national day of remembrance. On May 30, 2016 Combat Center leadership visited ceremonies throughout the community and dedicated their Memorial Day to the remembrance of America’s fallen heroes.
Maj. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, Combat Center Commanding General, represented the Combat Center as the guest speaker in the Memorial Day Ceremony at 29 Palms Cemetery. He began his address to community members in attendance by speaking about the beginnings of Memorial Day and the importance of keeping it alive in the minds of our citizens.
“On that first Memorial Day the graves of soldiers, both union and confederate, buried at Arlington Cemetery were all decorated with flowers and flags,” Craparotta said. “For more than 150 years, Memorial Day has stayed relatively the same. We must ensure as a country that we don’t let the real meaning of Memorial Day slip away. It’s critical to the core of this country that we continue to recognize the extraordinary efforts of hundreds of thousands of men and women who put country before self and gave their lives for our nation.”
Following Craparotta’s speech, memorial wreaths were presented and the event was concluded with the ceremonial execution of a rifle salute.
Combat Center leadership was also present at the Memorial Day Flag Raising in Indio, Calif., a Memorial Day Observance in Cathedral City, Calif., and the Memorial Day Observance at Joshua Tree Memorial Park in Joshua Tree, Calif. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 7’s color guard proudly presented the national and Marine Corps flags during a Memorial Day flower drop at the Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, Calif.
At Big Bear Lake Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Hendges, Combat Center Sergeant Major, addressed community members during the Memorial Day Ceremony in Veteran’s Park.
“We are not gathered today to glorify war,” Hendges said. “It is not war that we are remembering on this holiday, rather we gather to remember that when a war does arise there are men and women who are more than willing to give their all for the safety of this great nation.”
Hendges went on to discuss the hardships that the family members of the fallen endure and the noble sacrifices service members make in order to keep the scars of combat outside of America’s doors. He concluded his address with the importance of remembering the ultimate sacrifice so many American service members have paid.
“Conflicts are won but the fallen are never forgotten,” Hendges said. “While the debt from those who gave their lives can never be repaid, our appreciation is reflected in how we honor and remember their sacrifices.”