Bagram, Afghanistan —The 1st Infantry Division headquarters marked its first Memorial Day deployed to Afghanistan with a ceremony on Bagram Airfield, May 28.
The Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division and Combined Joint Task Force-1 presided over the ceremony, addressing an audience of Afghan, U.S. and NATO service members.
Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, Jr. spoke about sacrifice.
“Today we take pause from the fight to remember those who have given their lives in defense of our great nation,” said Mayville.
“In Afghanistan, we pay a special tribute to our brothers and sisters who have fallen here: 15 so far under this division’s watch and 1,975 over the last 11 years of combat,” he said.
The division assumed command of the fight in Regional Command-East mid-April, and has since been relentlessly pursuing the Taliban in what is called one of the last major offenses of this war.
So far its losses have hit close to home, said Mayville.
“We each know some of their names,” said Mayville, “and a few even know their families. We will never forget their sacrifice, nor will we forget their service.”
Mayville led the ceremony to its conclusion with words of dedication, both to the fallen and to the meaning of their sacrifice:
“We are here to ensure that those who conjured the unthinkable act of 9/11 and still wish us harm have no haven from which to plan and execute such an attack on our homeland again.
“Continue this fight against those who seek to bring terror to peace-loving people. Grasp the contagion of courage from those we honor today and finish the fight.”
The service ended as a 21-gun-salute, the traditional soldierly send-off to fallen comrades, echoed between the ranks of soldiers at the ceremony.
The writer is on the public affairs staff of the 1st Infantry Division.