KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Service Members and civilian personnel serving at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, officially honored those who died while serving in the United States armed forces during a Memorial Day Observance held at the base, May 28.
Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, the commanding general of the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and Joint Sustainment Command – Afghanistan, was the keynote speaker of the event and thanked those in attendance for taking the time to celebrate Memorial Day.
“On this Memorial Day, we honor and celebrate our military Service Members for devoting their lives to our country,” said French. “We thank them for sustaining the freedoms and thank them for their sacrifice. We shall never forget them, and we will never fail to honor them.”
French said that Memorial Day is particularly special to her because she lost a soldier during Memorial Day weekend in 2003. Because of this and impact the soldier’s death had on the unit, French said that on every Memorial Day, she reflects on the those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice serving in war.
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day three years after the Civil War ended, May 5, 1868. During this time, the Grand Army of the Republic, designated this time for the nation to decorate the graves of those killed in war with flowers.
The current name, Memorial Day, did not come into use until World War II and since 1971, the day has been officially observed on the last Monday of May.
With many service members, Memorial Day has a special meaning as it commemorates many of their peers who have served in the Armed Forces.
For Staff Sgt. Rey Guzman, the 3rd ESC’s strength management non-commissioned officer in charge, Memorial Day causes him to reflect on his first supervisor, who volunteered to deploy even though he was eligible to retire.
When Guzman was asked why his supervisor still volunteered to deploy, he simply said it was because he did not want his soldiers to deploy without him.
Within a month of being in a combat zone, his supervisor was killed during a mission. Guzman explained this as being what he reflects on during Memorial Day.
“Memorial Day to many is a day when people spend time with the one’s they love with celebrations and barbeques,” said Guzman. “But let’s not forget what it really means. On this day, we honor our fallen brothers and sisters.”