In Col. Crickett LeMasters’ 30 years of service, both active and in the reserves, she has seen it all.
“Just look at the attitude of the nation ... We have come a long way baby, that’s for sure,” she said. “Our troops today are being greeted with welcoming arms, which wasn’t the case when our fathers and grandfathers came home.”
LeMasters, who is set to retire Aug. 1 from the Reserves, has held many positions including a soldier, mother and spouse to Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters, commander of the 13th Sustainment Command.
Growing up, she said she remembers watching her mother hold down the homestead, four little ones in tow, while her father was serving with the Navy.
“You feel pride, almost like reverence for sacrifices so many have made,” she said, reflecting on what Memorial Day means to her. “It warms your heart that you are appreciated and that people genuinely thank you for all that you have done.
“You don’t think what you are doing is honorable or heroic, you just do what you think you are supposed to be doing.”
Memorial Day holds a dual meaning for Col. Cameron Cantlon, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
“Not only does Memorial Day serve as a weekend for families to celebrate and spend quality time together, I also remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with lives and their time to support our nation.”
Heights resident and veteran David Hare said he appreciates the support the military shows its veterans.
“Memorial Day is about those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “It’s great to see the community come out and show their respect and support.”
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Williams, 68, a member of the Rotary Club, was in the Army for 30 years and served in Vietnam, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Germany.
“Memorial Day keeps alive the spirit of those that have gone before us,” he said. “We want those families to know that they are not forgotten.”
Memorial Day also has special meaning for John D. Footman, 67, who served 20 years in the Army.
“I like to remember the fallen and all those who’ve gone before us,” he said.
For Jeanette Ide, 78, the day reminds her of those who died in combat like her dad in World War II and her husband who was killed in Vietnam.
And Ellie Wright, 58, who was a truck parts and mechanics clerk, said she likes to honor soldiers who were killed, especially her father and grandfather.
“We would not be able to have ceremonies like this if not for them,” she said.