By Alicia Lacy
The Cove Herald
Though the Copperas Cove Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 decided to celebrate Memorial Day on the actual day, members of the post participated in the Memorial Day ceremony at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.
With representatives from the national and local levels of government, the day was observed as a time of remembrance and a time to honor the families and soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
"This is the day we honor those who died on behalf of our country," U.S. Rep. John Carter said. "I've been here every year because this is really the hallowed ground that they concentrated with their blood for our nation."
"The key point we can never forget ... freedom isn't free," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander.
"What we're doing today is we are remembering. Sometimes I worry that we as a nation forget," Lynch added.
Copperas Cove Mayor John Hull attended the event on behalf of the city.
"We've got to pay our respects to the veterans," Hull said. "We owe them so much for what they've done for our country. We owe a lot to them and we try to do what we can for the families."
During the ceremony, 16 children of fallen soldiers from the Central Texas area were awarded a Gold Medal of Remembrance.
"I see this medal as a reminder that when the child becomes an adult they can remember their lost parent. I think that's a critical part in this whole thing. Keep that memory alive," Carter said.
"The Gold Medal of Remembrance was created to recognize your strength and to honor your loss," Sen. John Cornyn said to the children of the fallen soldiers. It's the first medal of its kind in American history and is awarded to the children of men and women killed in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere in the war on terror."
According to the White House Commission on Remembrance's Web site, the medal's gold represents the richness gained from the close relationship with families and friends. The flame on the medal symbolizes remembrance, hope and freedom. The laurel wreath is the ancient symbol of honor and victory and the golden flame within a star is the official emblem of the Commission on Remembrance.
The purple ribbon signifies the wounded heart of the child who has endured the loss of a parent, the black line indicates reminiscence and the red, white and blue represents the United States.
Though there are many claims to where the day got its start, Memorial Day, which was originally Decoration Day to honor those who died in the Civil War, was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The day was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Copperas Cove post will hold a ceremony at the Copperas Cove Cemetery at 10 a.m. Saturday and a ceremony at the police department at noon.