TIKRIT, Iraq – For many Americans, Memorial Day is just another government holiday – a day off from work or school – but for the families and friends of service members who died while serving their country; it's the last Monday in May where the memories of the fallen are honored.
For Capt. Simon Welte, commander of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., Memorial Day evokes deep emotion and deserves to be recognized by all Americans for what it represents and who it honors.
"When you sit down and think about where we are and where we came from, a lot of that is due to the veterans who gave their lives to serve this country [and] didn't get to enjoy those freedoms that they provided for other people," said the Augusta, Ky., native, who is currently on his second deployment to Iraq. "It is a hugely significant [holiday]; and if you take the time to sit back and think about it, I think you'd be hard-pressed not to find some emotions tied to that [day]."
Welte recalled the time he returned home from his first deployment. He remembered how even with people thanking him on Memorial Day and Veterans' Day for his service and sacrifice, he never really thought of himself as a veteran.
"It never really donned on me that at such a young age, at 24, that I was a veteran and had served and served my country," said Welte. "It's kind of humbling to think about. It [evokes] a lot of proud feelings and allows you to step back and put a lot of things into perspective."
Cambridge, Maine, native Sgt. William J. Coyle, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4IBCT is currently on his third deployment and his second deployment to Iraq. He said that Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays because it embodies the sacrifices made by the ones who fought for our country's freedoms.
"It symbolizes the sacrifices of the people who have gone before me and the military service have made and will continue to make," he said.
This work, 'Dragon' brigade Soldiers remember Memorial Day, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.