One point two million Americans have sacrificed their lives fighting for the United States in the last 242 years, dating back to the start of the American Revolution in 1775.
Of those 1.2 million, 11,000 Georgians have died fighting for America’s freedom, a point stressed at the Cumming’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, which was held Friday at the Veterans War Memorial downtown.
“By honoring our fallen service members, we keep their light alive,” said Georgia Army National Guardsman Lt. Col. Reed Berry, who served as the event’s keynote speaker. “They are never truly gone, so long as we continue to dedicate ourselves to preserving the memory of their patriotism.
“By standing for something greater than themselves, they have earned a place in the pantheon of celebrated heroes of our history and a legacy that goes back to the first shots fired in America’s struggle for independence as a nation.”
For many, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer, while Labor Day marks its end.
Though Friday’s event focused on the country’s past, present and future servicemen and women, Berry stressed the sacrifice families of those men and women have made.
“Our families are the force behind the force, giving their time and effort in emotional capital to provide a source of strength for those that protect our nation,” he said. “Our heroes’ families make sacrifices that endure long after their loved one’s passing, and we must continue to care for the survivors and families of our fallen heroes. Our debt is one of eternal gratitude; so, too, our commitment to them must be resolute and steadfast.”
This year, the city added nine American flags that represented 14 veterans to the Avenue of Flags, bringing the total number to 236, representing 287 veterans.
The flags are donated by family members of deceased U.S. Military veterans who earned the honor of a military funeral.
At the ceremony, family members of the deceased veterans unfurled the flags for the first time.
“To our gold star families, I want to reaffirm our commitment to you,” Berry said. “Your immeasurable sacrifice to your service members, both life and beyond, will never be forgotten. While most might not fully appreciate and understand the pain and pride you carry, I assure you that you will never carry it alone.
“We will continue to support you and honor the legacy left behind by over 11,000 fallen heroes memorialized throughout the state and the 1.2 million who gave their life for our freedom throughout the nation. Let us never waiver in our commitment.”