By Sarah Rafique
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Nearly two years after Sgt. 1st Class Ulysses Fleming died in Iraq from Agent Orange, Shirley Fleming wanted to honor her husband's memory.
Fleming joined about 200 residents, service members and their families at a Memorial Day parade and ceremony Saturday.
"I'm proud to be the wife of an Army man that served for (23) years so we can stand here today and be free," said Fleming.
Retired Staff Sgt. Raejean McDonald of Killeen said Memorial Day events are important because it highlights the freedoms that Americans died for.
"It reminds me of the friends that I've lost, the family that I've lost, the daughter (who served two years) that I almost lost in Iraq," she said. "Whenever I hear taps, it always reminds me of those who died so that I could live and continue on the fight."
For Ursula Adam of Killeen, military service is generational. Her husband, father and three grandchildren have served. Her son-in-law also served and died in Iraq.
Although it has been tough on the family, Adam said it has strengthened her support for service members. "We're here for the soldiers," she said. "Giving thanks for what they've done for us and still do for us."
Adam said Memorial Day events are important for the community because the parade features wounded veterans, which "allows children to learn their freedom really is what these people did for them."
Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commander, said he was honored to not only be in the presence of America's heroes but also those who work to make sure they're not forgotten.
"On this hallowed day, many Americans remember the sacrifice of a loved one, a close friend or a comrade in arms," said Campbell. "Not drawn from any one social class or group, these heroes came from all walks of life, from every corner of our great land."
He thanked the heroes for protecting the American way of life by providing a "blanket of freedom that no other country can parallel."
Nichole Broemer, recreation and events coordinator for Harker Heights parks and recreation, said the city's Memorial Day event gets bigger every year. About 50 organizations participated in the parade this year.
"It's important because our community is retired military and active military," said Broemer. "This is an opportunity for the citizens to be involved in honoring them and showing their support."
Harker Heights Mayor Mike Aycock honored service members for their "ultimate sacrifice" for the country their "bravery, honor and valor."
Contact Sarah Rafique at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-4549.