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Vermont Guard And State Officials Rededicate Memorial To Vermont Soldiers

Vermont National Guard and state officials commemorated Memorial Day and re-dedicated the Fallen Heroes Memorial Thursday in Colchester.

The Vermont Guard’s Fallen Heroes Memorial was originally built and located within Camp Johnson, the military base housing the Vermont National Guard, to honor fallen soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The memorial has been relocated outside the gates so that the public and Gold Star families in particular can more easily visit the memorial.  A rededication ceremony was held Thursday. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Blair explained the significance of each part of the ceremony and introduced the Gold Star families in attendance. Each held a yellow rose. 

“Yellow roses symbolize remembrance and warm memory," Lt. Col. Blair said. "The intent of the memorial can best be summed up by the words of retired Colonel David Precopio. Quote: Some have asked why we build memorials that bring back painful memories of loved ones lost. While they do stir some painful memories they are always offset by feelings of pride and memories of love and happiness that are a great comfort to the families and friends of loved ones lost. It also helps us as fellow soldiers and countrymen to perform our solemn duty to always remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Former Governor Jim Douglas presided over the original dedication on September 11, 2008 and returned for the rededication.  

“When we dedicated this memorial and when we honored each Guardsman individually we promised their families and friends that we would never forget their service and sacrifice," Douglas said. "We have not forgotten. And the relocation of this magnificent structure will ensure that more Vermonters and visitors to our state will have the opportunity to remember for generations to come.”  

The memorial was moved without any changes except one. Governor Douglas unveiled a commemorative brick that will be laid in its center to mark the date of the rededication.

Vermont Adjutant General Major General Gregory Knight spoke on the significance of Memorial Day and the rededication. 

“It’s important to understand service in our military is a choice," Maj. Gen. Knight said. "We’re fortunate to have had them. We’re standing on their shoulders. They were Americans with a common purpose of serving others and making the world a better place.”

Governor Phil Scott directed some of his remarks to the Gold Star families. 

“As the son of a disabled WWII vet who left us when I was 11 even after 50 years I feel your pain as well as your pride," Scott said. "It doesn’t go away. Nor should it.  We live in freedom thanks to them. And it’s important we don’t forget how they lived as well as how they died. And it’s more than just names and dates engraved on granite memorials.”

“Wreaths are commonly used during Memorial Day celebrations," Lt. Col. Blair said. "The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes eternity and immortality. Flowers often decorate the wreaths with patriotic colors. As part of today’s ceremony Governor Scott and Major General Knight will lay a wreath at the base of the memorial in honor of our state service members who have died in service to their country. The firing of three volleys comes from an old battlefield custom. Two warring sides would agree to cease hostilities to clear their fallen from the battlefield and firing of three volleys meant that all had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume battle.  The bugle call Taps originated during the Civil War that signaled soldiers in the camp to put out the lights and go to sleep. The call later came into another use as a figurative call to sleep of eternal rest for soldiers.”