Memorial Day Service 2021

Image of a Memorial Day graphicPicture of rose under obelisk at Spirit of Freedom Monument

The City of Lakeway held a special Memorial Day Service on Friday, May 28 to remember and honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Below you will find details included in the program, along with the speech from special guest speaker General Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.).

CLICK HERE to watch the memorial day service

Date: Friday, May 28, 2021

Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Lakeway Church

 2203 Lakeway Blvd.

   Lakeway, TX 78734


Color Guard: USMC - Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment

Pledge of Allegiance: Nancy Forage, Regent with Lohmann's Ford Chapter of NSDAR

Invocation: Associate Pastor Brent Graham with Lakeway Church

Welcome: Mayor Tom Kilgore

Guest Speaker: General Vincent Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Presentation of the Memorial Wreath: Nancy Forage, Regent with Lohmann's Ford Chapter of NSDAR & Mrs. Cindy Reeves (Gold Star Family) 

Benediction: Deacon Terry Guilbert with Emmaus Catholic Church

General Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.) speech on Friday, May 28, 2021 at Lakeway Church in Lakeway, Texas:

Picture of General Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.)

"Thoughts on Memorial Day

Thanks to my West Point classmate, the mayor of Lakeway, Tom “T.K.” Kilgore on this anniversary of our graduation in 1980, and to all of you, for the privilege of sharing some reflections about what I believe to be our most sacred public holidays as Americans -- Memorial Day.

Society says “happy Memorial Day”

Is this a happy day?  

I grew up in a patriotic military family, as did my wife Carol.  We observed Memorial Day with its flags.  Sometimes we visited graves of our own family members.  But, like many Americans, I began to recognize Memorial Day as an annual milestone, not as an annual commemoration to honor those who lost their lives in the service of our country.  

I recognized the rectangular flag with blue field of stars and its red and white stripes.  But I did not know about the more sacred shape – where the stripes are not visible, and the flag becomes a starry blue triangle.

After all — Memorial Day was the annual start of swimming pool season; it was a long weekend; it was the beginning of the end of the school year; it was the gathering of family and friends around a barbecue grill . . . It certainly was a happy day.  It was just a milestone marking the way toward other coming events, like the summer.

Experiences with war — as a veteran, or as a family member separated from a loved one because of war — leave one with a very different view, I dare say a “purer” view of Memorial Day.

In May of 2007 I was in Baghdad, in combat, as the Deputy Commanding General of 1st Cavalry Division, from just up the road at Fort Hood. We were the main effort in the campaign to stabilize Iraq.  

I had been there for 9 months already and unknown to me (or to my wife Carol) at the time, I would be there, on this tour of duty, for 7 more months. And they were 7 tough months. 

The time is now known as “the surge.”  And while we ultimately turned things around and achieved success in breaking the violence, eliminating some of the extremist groups and protecting the population so that civil society could take root, in May we were actively engaged in offensive combat and the conditions weren’t a sure bet that we could pull it off . . . We were at that point where you don't feel like you are winning even when you are, as we were.

It is at such a time that our warriors are asked a great deal.  Their service comes down to a daily life or death struggle. For us, in the middle of the toughest problem, there were frequent deaths.  The butcher’s bill was already high and rising.  131 men and women perished in combat in that month of May in Iraq. 

One day, the 28th of May, 2007, I went to one of the all-too-frequent unit memorials to honor the recently fallen.  A soldier from a brigade under our division headquarters had been killed in action two days before.  The unit was trying to deal with the loss of yet another one of their own, while at the same time trying to maintain their focus and carry on their mission.  Amid this sad moment, it occurred to me that in the day-to-day grind of combat I had overlooked the fact that it was 27 years to the day since I had graduated from West Point, but more significantly . . . It was Memorial Day.  

And when I connected the sorrowful, dignity of those remaining warriors with the date on the calendar, and the grim reality that even as we were honoring the fallen of recent days 10 more died on that very day, and 4 the day after that, and 4 more the day after that, and 3 more on the final day of May, it became all too clear what Memorial Day is really about.  

My thoughts went to the homes of this young American and the additional 10 who died on Memorial Day, all of whom would remain forever young, and whom would also be forever missing from the families that so eagerly wanted them to come home safely and alive.  I finally understood Memorial Day, and I did not feel very happy.

For the friends of the fallen, and for the families of the fallen signified by a gold star that no one wishes to possess, Memorial Day will always be a day they cannot forget.   And they want to ensure their fellow countrymen who are gathering around picnic tables and at poolside also do not forget.  

 The irony of revelry and the word “happy” before "Memorial Day" weighed heavily on my mind.   How can anyone say “happy” in front of Memorial Day? . . .

Still reflecting on that Memorial Day, and the fourteen since that day up to today, I feel that I have gained a more profound and somewhat liberating understanding.  And I want to offer that same understanding to you.

You see my military service carried me to places where my nation needed me, and people like me, to be to do a job; resulting in a new and more sober view of Memorial Day.  

I witnessed first-hand the fundamental unhappiness of bitter loss, of generation after generation of warriors and families who placed such a noble sacrifice on the altar of freedom.   

And I also witnessed something else that many never get to see -- the impact of my country, our country, the United States of America around the world in the places where our once-evident bootprints, our contrails, our wakes are today only visible in the abstract.   In these impacts there are reasons to be happy. 

  • Be happy to be an American.   
  • Be happy that America is the land of the free because of the brave.  
  • Be happy that our Nation produces some amazing people even when some never came home.  
  • Be happy to feel the heavy weight of the sacrifices and also the weight a greater obligation to live worthy of their sacrifices. 
  • And be happy that every generation of Americans has answered the call and will continue to do so.  

When you hear "happy Memorial Day" today and in future years I hope you can enjoy the deepest appreciation of what it means, always remembering those who fell and their families, and appreciating what came from their sacrifices. 

God bless you all.  And God bless those whom we remember on this day.  Thank you for hearing my thoughts.  

Happy . . . Memorial Day!" 

A special thanks to Lakeway Church, Emmaus Catholic Church, Lohmann's Ford Chapter of the NSDAR, USMC- Weapons Company (1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment), and our local Gold Star Families.