FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Across the country, citizens are taking time to honor the sacrifice given by members of the U.S. military who died in combat.
This recognition comes from a tradition, born just years after the Civil War, which transformed over the decades into a national day of observance. Monday morning, the men and women at Fort Benning are doing their part to honor their fallen family members on Memorial Day.
The poignant ceremony took place at the Main Post Cemetery, where hundreds of soldiers, both men, and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of this country now rest.
Among those in attendance were top brass on the post, Gold Star families, veterans and local lawmakers. Fort Benning's commanding general, Maj. Gen. Gary Brito, spoke to the audience about today's recognition and the legacy of the fallen.
"Memorial Day can be a difficult time for many," he said. "Although [the fallen] are no longer with us today, we have every reason to be inspired by their service, dedication, their leadership, and most importantly, their patriotism."
What is now called Memorial Day was formally observed in 1868, as Decoration Day. At that time, families and veterans decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.
It is believed that Memorial Day, declared a federal holiday in 1971, happens each May because those honoring soldiers thought flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The flowers and flags now laid before these tombstones are tokens of eternal gratitude."I am very thankful for the path they laid for me," Maj. Gen Brito said. "[They are] men and women who have served their country dutifully and helped shape our proud identity."