‘Freedom is not free’: Ft. Polk hosts Memorial Day ceremony ahead of the holiday
FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - On Thursday, May 26, the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk hosted a Memorial Day ceremony on the installation ahead of the holiday.
For many Americans, Memorial Day means department store sales, getting the day off work and barbeques. However, those who have lost a loved one in the line of duty know what the holiday truly signifies.
“Sadly, I served in a number of combat operations and lost good friends and colleagues so I know the pain that their families go through,” said Brigadier General David Doyle, the Commanding General of Fort Polk. “For me, the opportunity to be part of this means that their memories are not in vain and that those individuals are recognized for their service and their family members know that we appreciate what they lost.”
Still, Brig. Gen. Doyle said he wants the public to enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend, but also remember why they are able to do so.
“What I tell folks is our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen who gave their lives in sacrifice did so, so that families and individuals can enjoy their freedoms and liberties,” said Brig. Gen. Doyle. “So, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating, and there’s nothing wrong with having a great time, but we ought to take a moment or two to recognize those contributions and understand the cost that they bore so the rest of the nation can enjoy the freedoms that we have.”
At the ceremony, Gold Star families - people who have lost someone in the line of duty - were in attendance. One of them, Betty Keaton, lost her husband, Captain Everett D. Keaton, on January 20, 1970, when he was killed in Vietnam.
“He (Capt. Everett D. Keaton) chose to walk upfront with his patrol and the point man triggered a booby trap,” said Betty. “He recognized that it was and pushed him out, and took the blast himself. He said he would not send his men anywhere he wouldn’t lead them.”
Betty said on Memorial Day she remembers her husband and all the others who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I’m proud of them and what they did, and we try to keep their names in front of everybody to remind them that freedom is not free,” said Betty.
If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran and need urgent help, please call the Veterans Affairs hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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