Ceremony Honors Fallen at Fort Stewart

Many across the country are pausing for the holiday that remembers fallen soldiers. Memorial Day began as a way to pay respect to soldiers killed on both sides of the Civil War.

With so many local soldiers in Iraq right now, it takes on an even deeper meaning. For those gathered at Fort Stewart today, the sacrifices of soldiers are only too real.

In the midst of the usual ceremony, Spc. Josh Lindsey fought back tears, not for his own paralyzing injuries, but for a comrade killed in the same attack. He no longer takes Memorial Day for granted.

"It's the most important holiday to me, to know that other people will die for you and they don't even know you," he said.

At Fort Stewart, the holiday is not about shopping or cookouts, but stories like Patricia Barbee's. Saturday is the anniversary of the last time she saw her husband before he was later killed in Viet Nam. "When I hear the gun salute and Taps I go back to standing by his memorial at Arlington National Cemetery," she said.

The memories are enough to bring Jerry Cunningham and his grandsons all the way from Columbia, South Carolina. "I started with the Third Division. I ended my career with the Third Division," he said. "It is a part of my life, my history."

Reverent thoughts here weren't reserved to soldiers of the past.

"I have a lot of friends in the desert right now who are putting themselves in harm's way and I think about them all the time," Sgt. First Class Judy Forshee said.

As soldiers past and present filed by to thank Josh for his sacrifices, his tears went to those who'd given even more.

In his speech today, Col. Tom Torrance from the Pentagon estimated a half million Americans have given their lives in combat. He urged everyone in the ceremony as part of whatever plans they have this holiday weekend to remember those who've paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com