JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Hundreds of military families gathered inside JBLM Monday to honor servicemen and women who sacrificed everything for their country.
Tucked behind the gates and barracks sits the nearly 100-year-old Fort Lewis Cemetery. Nearly 1,000 servicemen and women are laid to rest there and it’s a place where military families honor their loved ones.
“Every time you hear taps played, remember, pause, reflect,” said Col. Anthony David, deputy JBLM commander during Monday’s ceremony.
Husbands, wives, brothers and sisters were all present to honor the lives of heroes.
“Memorial Day is a time to remember and reflect on those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s defense,” said Davit, who placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
At JBLM, Memorial Day is also a reminder to give thanks.
“A day for us to be grateful that we live in a nation that service members throughout history have said, 'If not me, then who? If not now, then when?'” said Davit.
“I didn’t have anybody that would show me the way. It was very, very hard,” said widow Mara Barthel.
The seal on Barthel’s hat indicates she’s a Gold Star Wife – a group of widows of soldiers who died in combat or during service. Her husband died in 1986, years after fighting in Vietnam.
“His name was Edward August Barthel, he was in the U.S. Navy,” she added.
For Barthel, Memorial Day is a time to remember her husband’s courage and bravery a world away from the front lines and to remind others the price of freedom is high; one that soldier’s families pay long after their loved ones are laid to rest.
“It’s important for me because we remember what our country is all about,” she said, “and how many of our lost ones have helped keep us safe."