A wreath for the fallen

10 Nov 2007 | Gunnery Sgt. Will Price

More than 1,500 Marine veterans, active Marines and spectators gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial, on Nov. 10 for a wreath-laying ceremony honoring our fallen service members.

The ceremony marking the 232nd birthday of the Marine Corps, was presided over by General James T. Conway, 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps. The guest of honor for the ceremony was Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Mr. H. C. "Barney" Barnum, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs.

"We will also pause for a moment of silence, to remember those who have gone before us," said Gen. Conway in his speech delivered at the ceremony. "That's what Marines do, and that's a very important part of the ceremony because it shows our young Marines that whether you're in uniform or not, whether you have answered that final bugle call or not, your service, your sacrifice, will be remembered."

Notable guests in attendance were the Honorable Donald C. Winter, Secretary of the Navy, Gen. P. X. Kelley, 28th CMC, Gen. Carl E. Mundy, Jr., 30th CMC, Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, Gen. Duncan McNabb, Vice Chief of Staff for the Air Force and Sgt Maj. Carlton Kent, 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

"As we gather here today in peace and security, we're all reminded that we live in a very troubled world of turmoil," said Barnum. "We are thankful for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman, many who are serving in harms way today, so that we can gather here and sit, pause and reflect on who we are, and what we have done, as part of the greatest

 country in the world."

Under a cloud-filled sky, Gen. Conway, Col. Barnum and Col. W. Blake Crowe, Marine Barracks, Washington, commanding officer, saluted the wreath, laid down in memory of all the Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country's freedoms.

"Today, in a very real sense, is a celebration, of those great young Americans of all services who have gone before and sacrificed to the utmost for this magnificent country," Conway added.

During the ceremony, all observed with quiet respect, the precision drill of the Barracks Parade Staff, United States Marine Color Guard and four ceremonial marching platoons from Alpha and Bravo Companies, marching to somber arrangements performed by the "President's Own" United States Marine Band, and the "Commandant's Own," United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps.

"It was with great pride for Marine Barracks Washington to participate in today's ceremonies, honoring and remembering our fallen brethren and Marine Corps icons," said Crowe. "It is a privilege for us to represent the Marines who could not be with us today from our past and those who are currently fighting our nation's enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan." 

Wreath-laying ceremonies were also held at grave sites in Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Naval Academy cemetery, in Annapolis, Md., and at Oak Hill Cemetery and the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., honoring former commandants and sergeants major of the Marine Corps.

Thus are the fallen members of our Marine family remembered and honored -- not just with a wreath, but with the eternal appreciation of our corps, and our nation -- for the freedoms they gave their lives to secure. Semper Fidelis!