Military

May 25, 2014 8:45 PM by Akeam Ashford

Acadiana Veterans Remember Soldiers Who Gave The Ultimate Sacrifice

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who've proudly served our country.

This year also marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., where thousands of veterans are laid to rest.

The cemetery serves as a resting place for service member from every conflict in U.S. history.

The cemetery once belonged to Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, according to Lafayette American Legion Post Commander Daniel Bentley.

He said it was officially designated as a military cemetery on June 15th, 1864 after Army Private William Christman was the first soldier to be buried there.

Bentley said there are roughly 30 veterans laid to rest there every day, and more than 4 million visitors who come to the cemetery every year.

"I was very lucky, unlike the many people in the military to get a chance to meet all the medal of honor recipients who show up for Memorial Day," Bentley said. "I got to hear all the stories of the guys who were in the trenches and really faught for our freedom."

Bentley says protecting the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington taught him how to appreciate the ultimate sacrifice men and women throughout history paid on behalf of their country.

"I always asked every single soldier I met if they'd do it all over again. Without hesitation, every single one of them said you damn right," Bentley said.

Out-going post commander Bob Lowe remembers his days in the Army.

He was 19 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

At 91 years old, he says he never forgets the day that lives in infamy.

"I saw the first Japanese plane come in. I saw the first bomb that got dropped, and I saw the Arizona when it blew up," Lowe said.

Separated by more than 60 years of service, both men agree that Memorial Day is also about honoring the families of those soldiers who never made it home.

"We have grown up people who were children when they lost their mother and father, and who are now adults and have only their stories," Lowe said. "We must pay our respect to those families also."

 

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