Metro-East News

O’Fallon honors fallen heroes at Memorial Day ceremony

“This is a time to remember and respect those who gave their lives to secure our freedom.”

That’s what Brig. Gen. Stacey T. Hawkins told a crowd of patriots gathered on Memorial Day at the O’Fallon Veterans Memorial. Dozens attended the ceremony to honor the memory of fallen American heroes. Hawkins, director of logistics for Engineering at Force Protection, thanked those in attendance.

“Thank you for what you mean to our country, and thank you for your support,” said Hawkins, who is based at Scott Air Force Base.

O’Fallon Township High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets posted and retired the Colors and placed a wreath near the monument, which bears the names of O’Fallon veterans. Names are added to the monument twice a year — Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Alayshia Baker, a 16-year-old junior ROTC cadet, participated in the ceremony. She said it was important to her to be present at the event.

“It just shows what it means to come together,” Baker said. “Showing the community how we care.”

Hawkins, the brigadier general, went on to acknowledged Gold Star families nationwide.

“We recognize the families of fallen heroes, and Gold Star families, we honor you,” Hawkins said. “We are committed to making sure you are never alone.”

Sixteen O’Fallon veterans’ names have been newly inscribed in the monument. Those names include:

▪ William D. Amos

▪ Robert F. Cole

▪ William B. Cope

▪ Lisa D. DeDecker

▪ James R. Edwards, Jr.

▪ Chuck Gurkin

▪ Richard L. Hampton

▪ Richard G. Hosman

▪ James R. Jarrell

▪ William Kowal

▪ Christien D. LaFreniere

▪ William R. Menz

▪ William R. Menz, Jr.

▪ Lawrence A. Myron

▪ Michael D. Reimer

▪ Joseph P. Wilbanks

The First Baptist Church of O’Fallon Adult Choir provided music for the ceremony. Kat Rubush sang the National Anthem and Madeleine Henken, Miss O’Fallon 2016, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.