The Fort Polk community and Vernon Parish legislatures came together Thursday morning, May 26, to honor the fallen soldiers of both Fort Polk and the nation.

 



The Fort Polk community and Vernon Parish legislatures came together Thursday morning, May 26, to honor the fallen soldiers of both Fort Polk and the nation.
In a ceremony attended by 127 survivors of soldiers from the surrounding areas, Warrior Memorial Park played host to a poignant service that reminded its attendants to be thankful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"I challenge each one of you today to look into your hearts for the true meaning of 'memorial'," keynote speaker for the ceremony, William James Hill, III said during his speech. "Today it is a tribute to honor those who gave their lives in sacrifice for our most precious asset, our freedom."
General James C. Yarbrough introduced Hill at the beginning of the ceremony. Hill is the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, and has spent 30 years serving in the U.S. Army, working his way up to the rank of Colonel.
To drive home his point of rejoicing instead of mourning the many soldier who died to preserve American freedom, Hill quoted many generals and colonels of the past, including General Patton who according to Hill once said that "it is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, rather we should rejoice in their sacrifice".
According to General Yarbrough, 61 soldiers from Fort Polk have sacrificed their lives since 2003, and during Thursday's ceremony, attention was directed to the addition of another name to that list, Sgt. Ricky Jones of the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Jones' name is now displayed on the park's Global War on Terrorism monument.
"We all should be proud of our fallen soldiers," Hill said. "They did not go to conquer a country or a people, they went to liberate it. We applaud all of the strong surviving families whose sacrifice allows us to look to a better world."
After the ceremony ended, General Yarbrough looked back with pride at the event. "I think America is blessed to have the soldiers that are serving now. The army is the best now that it has ever been, there is no comparison, and today was a day to pause and reflect on those whose sacrifices preserve our freedom."
Memorial Day became a national holiday on May 30, 1868 following a proclamation made by Retired Major General John Logan. Before that, it was known as Decoration Day and recognized those who died serving during the Civil War. The National Holiday Act of 1971 changed the date Memorial Day is celebrated to the last Monday in May.