FT RUCKER (WTVY) -- Memorial Day may be the unofficial start to summer, but veterans hope you'll take a moment to remember the reason behind the holiday.
Fort Rucker holds Memorial Day ceremony on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Tributes to fallen soldiers began Friday morning at Fort Rucker.
Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, was the guest speaker.
“Veterans know the cost of peace first hand. That cost has a first name. That cost has a last name, a middle name, and parents,” Gayler said.
Bonnie Brown is a Gold Star Mother from Troy. Her son, PFC John E Brown, was killed in Iraq on April 14, 2003. He was 6 weeks from his 22nd birthday.
“Johnny was following in his daddy's footsteps. He wanted to make his daddy proud is the way he put it. So he did. He made us all proud,” Brown said.
Fourteen years have passed since Brown gave his life serving his country. That’s fourteen Memorial Day ceremonies for his family.
“Memorial Day just helps us realize people still remember Johnny. And other people who have lost lives and families of the soldiers. It just means a lot to know they are not forgotten,” Brown said.
They will never be forgotten if James Rathburn has anything to do with it.
Rathburn is the District 7 commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Alabama. He served 40 years in the military, and retired to the Wiregrass because as he says, “There's still a little bit of America left here.”
He said, “I appreciate the efforts that are made here. Memorial Day in Dothan, Daleville, Ozark, and Enterprise there are services. That's what we need. We need to citizens to continue to remember Memorial Day is about us honoring those veterans that gave their lives in combat for the freedoms that we have today.”