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Sacrifices recalled on Memorial Day

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POSTED: June 2, 2010 9:38 a.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

3rd ID Deputy Commander-Rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips greets veterans before the start of a Memorial Day observance at American Legion Post 168 on Monday.

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In a military community like Hinesville, the true meaning of Memorial Day appears to be properly acknowledged.
“Freedom is never really free,” American Legion Post 168 member Guido Knapp said Monday. Knapp was master of ceremonies for the Memorial Day 2010 observance at the American Legion Fred L. Ginter Post 168 headquarters on Highway 84 in Hinesville.
Fragile World War II veterans in wheelchairs joined veterans from America’s other wars and conflicts to pay tribute to those who were killed in the line of duty.
“This day is set aside for those who made the highest sacrifice,” 3rd ID Deputy Commander-Rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said. Phillips was the guest speaker for the event. He urged people not to confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day.
“A lot of people just forget (Memorial Day’s meaning) sometimes,” Sgt. Richard McDonald said. McDonald, who drove Phillips and Command Sgt. Major Jeffrey Ashmen to post headquarters Monday, has served two deployments to Iraq. He said he was honored to be a part of the Memorial Day observance.
“I’d rather be working on a day like today,” the 28-year-old sergeant said. “To tell them (older veterans) thanks, too.”
Phillips said today’s warriors were bringing “law and order” to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as helping to rebuild those countries.
He asked the crowd to also thank those men and women who serve and protect their communities, namely those in law enforcement and emergency services. Phillips, in particular, marked the passing of Liberty County Sheriff J. Don Martin, whose funeral was Sunday.
“He was a man who earned the respect according him,” the general said.
Phillips said the first Memorial Day grew out of a holiday known as Decoration Day.  On May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, N.Y., flags were flown at half mast and war dead from the Civil War were honored, he said.
Phillips spoke of deceased Navy Seal Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, who threw himself onto a grenade to save his comrades. Monsoor died in Iraq in 2006.
The general also mentioned the late Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who wrote in a letter to his parents that he would either step off the plane on his own, or be carried off when he returned home from the war in Iraq. Smith died in 2003 and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2005.
Phillips said the Army now does a better job of supporting the families of fallen soldiers by offering services to help surviving family members emotionally and financially.
“Our survivors are members of our Army family; now and forever,” he said.
 

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