Recognizing Memorial Day

Fayetteville VAMC Associate Director James Galkowski joins Cumberland County Society of Patriots member George Breece in planting flags at the medical center entryway for Memorial Day.

Veterans and community members came together May 27 to remember service members who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

By Ed Drohan, Fayetteville VAMC Public Affairs


To begin the day, George Breece, a member of the Cumberland County Society of Patriots joined Fayetteville VAMC Associate Director James Galkowski to place flags along the facility’s entryway.  The society – made up of civic, economic, military, educational and arts groups that band together to promote Cumberland County as one of the most patriotic communities in America – places flags at the entryway to the hospital and cemeteries in the county every Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“It is an honor and a blessing to have the opportunity to participate in this memorial to our Veterans,” Breece said.

Later that same day, Air Force Reserve Col. Merle D. Hart spoke to a group of residents, staff members, Veterans and guests during the medical center’s annual Memorial Day observance.  Hart, who commands the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Field, N.C., spoke of the sacrifices made by service members in the past, and the sacrifices they are making today.

“Currently, more than 500,000 survivors are receiving VA benefits,” Hart said.  “We share their sorrow, but we cannot know their grief. What we can do – and must do as a nation – is remember their loved ones and their sacrifice. We must remember what they did; why they did it; and appreciate what it means to us – personally and as a nation.

“It means freedom,” Hart added.  “It means security. It means strength, and the motivation to stay strong in the name of freedom. To do any less would defile the hopes and dreams of those we honor here today.”

Galkowski also reminded guests at the ceremony to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. Monday – the national Moment of Remembrance – to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

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