JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds gathered Monday morning for a somber remembrance ceremony in front of Jacksonville's Veteran's Memorial Wall as four more names were added to the nearly 1,700 already etched into the black granite.
A wreath was laid in honor of fallen veterans, and Jacksonville's surviving World War II veterans were also recognized for their service.
"The names behind me and many of you with us today in the audience who served and sacrificed and guaranteed the freedom that we enjoy," Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman told the crowd. "As a community, we are eternally grateful and we will never forget ... the names of Jacksonville’s 1,700 noblest sons and daughters."
Names added to Jacksonville Veteran's Memorial Wall
The names of Lt. Christopher Reed, Maj. Gen. James Randolph, Sgt. Brittney (Mitchell) Silver and George Woods were called out as the four additional names on the wall this year.
Silver was shot and killed in October in a domestic incident while serving at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Her father, Rod Hughes, said she was always a joyful person who was loved by many.
"Today was a very, very special day, not just for me but the family (and) mother," Hughes said. "She was loved, not only in the city of Jacksonville. She was loved at Killeen, Texas, where she was last stationed."
Hughes said Memorial Day will now be a day he will never be able to forget and he can visit the wall any time in remembrance of his daughter.
Whether in combat or on duty elsewhere, the death of a military member should be honored and respected, Gen. Craig McKinley said.
"Let's remember to pray, to be grateful, to never take our freedom for granted. Thanks to you who have been called to serve or is serving today, especially those who have given their lives and the last full measure of devotion to this great nation," McKinley said. "Our task today will be: We will remember. God bless you all and the United States of America."
Jacksonville has the largest memorial wall outside of Washington, D.C., and the only one that honors veterans from all six branches of the military: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.