For the first time in months, the Vermont National Guard held an in-person ceremony to honor fallen soldiers Thursday.
Gov. Phil Scott and former Gov. Jim Douglas attended the service, alongside the families of 14 soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country.
It’s been a year since the Guard could hold a memorial service in person. Members spent some time preparing the site of Thursday’s service, a monument that went up in 2008. It was moved closer to the entrance to make it more accessible to the public.
Lt. Col. Erika Procopio was there to honor her late husband, who lost his life in Iraq in 2005.
“I’ve always been so appreciative of the memorial service and the dedication and the monument here for our fallen soldiers of the global War on Terrorism,” said Procopio.
Scott praised the Guard for their service during the pandemic, here and abroad.
“The Guard and all members of our military know the meaning of true sacrifice, probably better than anyone,” said Scott, whose comments included recollections of his father, who fought in Europe during World War II.
“Again, I think of my father as an example. Shortly after D-Day, he was on his way to liberate St. Leu, France when his tank hit a land mine, losing both his legs. He spent two years recovering in Walter Reed hospital, but he thought he was one of the lucky ones,” said Scott.
Scott also said he understood the burden on military families.
“As the son of a disabled World War II vet who left us when I was 11, even after 50 years I feel your pain, as well as your pride,” said Scott.
Procopio says the coming Memorial Day is a reminder of the sacrifices of those who fought and died defending America.
“Their freedoms, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is tied up by every solider that we lose and every generation will have its heroes. This is just ours,” said Procopio.