SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — While most people view Memorial Day as a welcome day off, military families see a more solemn occasion —a day to remember those who signed up to protect our country—and paid with their lives.
The historic cemetery at Fort Huachuca is a study in sacrifice that dates back to frontier days. Today it was the scene of a solemn ceremony to remember all who died in the service of this country.
Since the draft ended and the American military became volunteer only, military families may live lives purely civilian families might not understand.
Major General Anthony Hale, Fort Huachuca’s Commanding General says he tries to build ties between Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista.
“And that way we all understand each other, and sometimes kind of the similarities but also the differences with those who serve and the sacrifice they have, and our civilians right outside of the gate— in protecting their freedoms.”
When someone dies serving our country their families are called Gold Star families. Lorraine Obregon placed a wreath on behalf of the American Gold Star MothersOrganization, and in memory of her son, Private Second Class Stefano Panchesin.
“My son ended his Earthly life by suicide. And so it's one of the things that I'm advocating for. I think we need to have more types of behavioral health, mental health care. It is very difficult for some of our younger soldiers.”
Andrew Schneider says a child should never die before his parents but he is a Gold Star Father now. He says his son Specialist Matthew Evan Schneider mainly worked as a computer expert but also went on—-and survived—dangerous patrols in Iraq.
“One day when he came back in uniform and with his weapon, he sat down and he was cleaning a computer and the chemical that he used to clean it killed him. It acts like cyanide, and he died instantly. And it was just a tragic accident. But he died with all of his friends and died with his comrades.”
Fort Huachuca’s ceremony ends with a rifle salute that signals an army has honored its dead.
And the bugle call that marks the end of the day, or the end of a life.
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