Memorial Day Observance Ceremony on Cater Lawn held in Auburn

Published: May. 27, 2023 at 12:58 PM EDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - Auburn University officials hosted an event for Memorial Day with a special observance ceremony, where many gathered to remember and honor those individuals who made sacrifices while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

“Freedom isn’t free, it takes all of our past, current, and future soldiers, and we need to support them,” says Beth Hiller.

This year in honor of Memorial Day, Auburn University is focusing in on the importance and significance of the Iraq War, where over four thousand flags were placed on Cater Lawn in tribute to each U.S service member who died during that time.

“We need to take that time not just today, not just Monday, but every day to remember those people, and thank them for their service and their sacrifice,” says Hiller.

A timeline signage of the Iraq War guides visitors through the journey of each significant event that occurred during that time, along with those who died protecting others.

The special occasion included multiple guests speaks including one of Opelika’s own city councilman Todd Rauch. Rauch is a retired U.S Army Military police officer, where during his deployment to Iraq, he survived a mortar attack after saving the lives of his fellow soldiers in 2003.

“My first thought after waking up in Iraq from surgery while still in Iraq, was hoping that I was still well enough to continue to fight with my brothers and sisters,” says Rauch.

Beth Hiller, mother of Dusty Hiller who died after being ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades in Iraq, said she will always be a proud mother.

“It always means a lot, mainly so people don’t forget, and it’s not just for my son. You’ll have to bear with me. Its not just for my son, but for all fallen soldiers,” says Hiller.

Rauch said today with it being exactly 20 years since the Iraq war, and being apart of the fight, he is very blessed to still be here.

“Today means so much more to us because we knew them, and that we share these memories with their families,” said Rauch.

For more information on the flag display click here.