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Friday, August 01, 2014, 10:06 p.m.
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Ultimate sacrifice

Fallen soldiers to be remembered with wreath ceremonies

By Angela Spencer

This article was published May 25, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

the-little-rock-air-force-base-will-recognize-memorial-day-with-a-ceremony-monday-morning-at-heritage-park-the-event-will-include-a-flag-raising-the-playing-of-taps-and-the-laying-of-wreaths-at-three-memorials-in-the-park

The Little Rock Air Force Base will recognize Memorial Day with a ceremony Monday morning at Heritage Park. The event will include a flag raising, the playing of taps and the laying of wreaths at three memorials in the park.

Memorial Day sometimes brings up thoughts of warm summer weather and hamburgers on the grill, but the Little Rock Air Force Base will start the day with a wreath-laying ceremony Monday morning at three memorials in the base’s Heritage Park.

Maj. Nathan Anderson said the ceremony may be short, but it will start the holiday with an air of respect.

“It’s a quick pause to the start of the day,” he said. “It puts you in the right mind for the rest of the day.”

Anderson said Memorial Day on base carries exceptional meaning, as there is a kinship among military personnel.

“We certainly enjoy the burgers as well, but we feel a kinship for one another,” he said. “It’s closer to home. Most everyone here knows somebody or knows of somebody who’s passed away in recent conflicts and made the ultimate sacrifice. I think it makes it a little more sacred for some of us.”

The wreath-laying ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. at Heritage Park. The morning flag raising will be included, with airmen bringing the flag to the top of the staff before moving it down to half-staff for the day. The honor guard will be present, and taps will be played at the ceremony.

Around the park, wing commanders at three Heritage Park memorials will lay wreaths in honor of those who have died in service.

“It is our intent to make it a very reverent atmosphere,” Anderson said.

The Global War on Terrorism Memorial specifically remembers the men from the Little Rock Air Force Base who gave their lives fighting global terrorism. The memorial includes a Battlefield Cross, a symbolic replacement of a cross for a soldier who has been killed. Traditionally, the Battlefield Cross is composed of a soldier’s rifle with bayonet, helmet and dog tags.

Another large memorial in front near the B47 aircraft is dedicated to those who lost their lives in aircraft and missile mishaps while assigned to the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“Some folks passed away doing their day-to-day duties,” Anderson said.

The 62nd Airlift Squadron Memorial, which honors fellow airmen who died in service to their country, will also receive a wreath on Memorial Day.

On days such as Memorial Day when the country pauses to honor and remember military personnel, Anderson said he has received thanks from people in the community for his service. For him, those affirmations just add to the pride he has as a member of the military.

“I know for me, I appreciate when people do that,” he said. “I am grateful to serve. I enjoy knowing that I’m part of something big.”

Heritage Park is just inside the Air Force base close to the main gate. The base is not open to the general community, but airmen and civilian employees may bring visitors on base for the Memorial Day ceremony.

The ceremony will start at 8 a.m., and people are advised to arrive by 7:45 to ensure that parking is available. There is space for parking on the north side of Heritage Park.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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