Military News

Friday, May 29, 2015

Parade of Wreaths commemorates fallen warriors

by Pascual Flores
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

5/29/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The Joint Base community, alongside the Thomas B. McGuire Foundation and New Jersey State Police, observed Memorial Day with the 33rd Annual Parade of Wreaths May 21, 2015, at Tommy B's Community Activities Center here.

More than 300 service members representing all branches attended the ceremony honoring fallen warriors, both past and present.

This year's guest speaker, Judi Tapper, New Jersey Gold Star Mothers president, gave unique insight into sacrifice and military loss.

"Yes, I am an American Gold Star Mother, today, tomorrow and always, I will honor those who served, those serving, and above all, those who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Tapper. "My prayer is that more people will become aware of the cost of freedom and honor all who have given so much to preserve it."

Tappers' son, Petty Officer 1st Class David Tapper, was a 13-year Navy SEAL and was one of the SEALS who rescued Pvt. Jessica Lynch on April 1, 2003. He was killed in Afghanistan Aug. 20, 2003, during his third combat tour.

"The secret to surviving grief is not how you face the day, or even how you battle the emotions of grief, but in how you choose to spend it on us," said Tapper. "We choose which (moments) to remember; there is frustration, anger, confusion, sorrow, pain, loneliness and tears. But most of all, we choose to remember the beautiful and wonderful memories of that very special one."

More than 30 wreaths were presented as tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice by military members, community groups and local law enforcement agencies.

"Today is special, we remember the fallen, the sacrifices given by those that did what they could to help protect the security of our country," said Robert Maguire, Secretary of the Army's New Jersey Civilian Aide.

In keeping with the ceremony's spirit of remembrance, North Hanover Upper Elementary School essay contest winners Gwen Quakenboss and Kathryn Codiamat recited excerpts from their interpretation of "The Cost of Freedom."

"Memorial Day means different things to different people," said Quakenboss. "On this Memorial Day, don't just remember America, but America's heroes. Because no matter how high the cost of freedom may be, these heroes will always be there to protect us."

"Freedom is something that should not be taken for granted, because freedom is a gift given to us in return for the lives of many Soldiers," said Codiamat.

The Parade of Wreaths ceremony began in 1982 with the donation of a plaque for service members killed or missing in action.

"When our children go off to war, we as parents know in the back of our minds the possibility of what can happen," said Tapper. "When it does happen, we all share the same heartaches and we grieve in so many different ways. We will not stop grieving, we will not stop caring and we will not accept defeat. Until that day, I have chosen to put on his boots, pick up his weapon and stay in the fight for our troops and for the Gold Star Families knowing one day, we will be reunited."

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