Emotions ran deep during Kempner’s fifth annual Memorial Day ceremony Monday to honor Americans who died while serving their country. The ceremony was one of several conducted Monday in communities throughout Central Texas.
“It’s a time to honor those who have given their lives and have given all so that we can be here,” Mayor Gene Isenhour said.
Visitors such as Army veterans Harvey and Joan Reed gathered around the veterans memorial at Sylvia Tucker Memorial Park to pay their respects. The Reeds attend the ceremony each year.
“This is beautiful,” Harvey Reed said, “It’s really nice to come to a little town like this and be able to take part in (the ceremony).”
Joan Reed said the ceremony was a wonderful celebration.
“We need to remember our soldiers, those past and those who are here today.”
Several Fort Hood soldiers came out in formal dress to watch the ceremony, including 1st Sgt. Lahaun Watts.
“We’re here to recognize not only soldiers who have fallen but even those who are deployed and cannot be with their families.”
As Fort Hood’s 62nd Engineer Battalion color guard marched in, many observers fought to hold back tears.
“I’ve known quite a few soldiers that I lost during my time in the service. I can never forget them,” said George Martin, a 22-year Army veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Marvin Griffin, commander of the 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, said it is the responsibility of citizens to remember servicemen and women and give them thanks for answering when the nation called. “Today, we are rooting for our home team,” he said. “In this country, we support our Army and we support our nation. We proudly wave our American flag and openly celebrate our freedom.”
Griffin also recognized Mayor Isenhour and the Kempner community for their continued support by presenting the city with a commemorative plaque on behalf of the battalion.
“You’re all patriots and proud Americans and it has been a distinct honor to be a part of this with you,” Griffin said.
The ceremony closed with Army pomp and circumstance, including a 21-gun salute, the laying of a wreath and the playing of taps.
Isenhour, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam as an air traffic controller, expressed concerns about the impact Memorial Day will have in the future. “I really have a fear that our younger generation is not going to know what this is about, and so it’s important that small communities like ours hold services like this and have a place to recognize our veterans,” he said.