HARKER HEIGHTS — “It’s OK to lay your head down and go to sleep.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars District 14 Commander Allen Freeman said this was the meaning behind taps, a song traditionally played in remembrance of soldiers killed in battle.
Along with four others, Freeman spoke Monday afternoon at VFW Post 3892’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, a tradition for more than 35 years.
“Memorial Day is a very personal holiday for all of us in uniform,” said Lt. Col. Robert Rodriguez, former commander of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, the post’s adopted unit. Rodriguez, who was guest speaker at the event, is the director of the Armored Brigade Combat Team Warfighter Forum at Fort Hood.
The holiday started as “Decoration Day” after the Civil War, this country’s deadliest war, Rodriguez said. All state legislatures recognized Memorial Day by the end of the 1800s, but the federal government didn’t make it a federal holiday until 1971.
Rodriguez said 24 of his fellow soldiers died over the span of his 20-year military career.
“There are countless family members who are affected by their loved ones’ passing,” Rodriguez said. “I want to assure them that their loved ones’ valor and courage was laid at the feet of their country’s freedom, and, that in the end, they answered their nation’s call and valiantly gave their life for its defense and continued democracy.”
Kurt Rushlow, the incoming post commander, presented a red wreath to outgoing commander Charles Duncan, who set it in the middle of the post’s outdoor memorial bearing 57 flags before the 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 271 held flags during the event, attended by about 80 people.
Other speakers included post member and Heights Councilman Sam Murphey, Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin and Pam Duncan, the Ladies Auxiliary president.