Memorial Day is traditionally a time for special ceremonies throughout neighboring communities. Fort Lee has been a proud supporter of these events, providing color guards, guest speakers, rifle squads, musicians for the playing of “Taps” and uniformed Soldiers placing flags on veteran graves in local cemeteries.
The implementation of social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 make this year a challenging one to appropriately show our appreciation for the fallen and their surviving family members. CASCOM and Fort Lee garrison teams, however, have lined up some creative alternatives.
The first is a Virtual Butterfly Release that involves downloading and decorating one of five available certificates. Community members can color them, write in the name of a fallen service member or a message of support, and display them in their front window from May 21-26 for a shared remembrance.
Today at 10 a.m., a video message to Gold Star Families from Garrison Commander Col. Hollie Martin will be posted to www.facebook.com/Survivor-Outreach-Services-Fort-Lee-VA. Accompanying that presentation will be remarks from Gold Star Father Lawrence G. Sprader Sr., who will speak about his fallen son Sgt. Lawrence G. Sprader Jr.
Also planned is a walking memorial tribute that will feature signs with photos depicting fallen military members displayed along an approximate 3-mile loop (Mahone, Sisisky, Battle Drive) on the installation. Individuals and families are encouraged to walk the route in a safe, socially distanced manner and reflect on those who gave their lives while serving this nation.
CASCOM will post a virtual wreath laying on Monday, providing an opportunity for the community to reflect together and reaffirm our commitment to selfless service. The event can be viewed at www.facebook.com//USACASCOM.
A “Moment of Remembrance” is planned for 3 p.m. EST on Memorial Day. Individuals across the nation are asked to pause for one minute for a shared moment of remembrance that will connect us as Americans.
“We will remember those who sacrificed many times before us and those who will make the sacrifice in the future,” wrote Gen. Gus Perna, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, in a recent message to the force. “We will remember all service men and women who will go in harm's way and uphold their promise. We are the land of the free because of the selected brave.”
Service leaders are encouraging individual initiatives as well. Those who know a Gold Star Family member, for example, could extend an offer to help in some small way. At the very least, thank them for the sacrifice their family has made and for the selfless service their Soldier gave to our country.
Details on the Survivor Outreach Services events can be found at lee.armymwr.com.