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Reflection and gratitude mark campus Memorial Day ceremony

BOONE—Friends, family and fellow service members paused early Monday morning to remember those who died in service to their country.

View larger imageLt. Col. David Cox delivers remarks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Appalachian State University. (Photo by Marie Freeman)View larger imageRetired Maj. Bob Gibbard, center, chats with Don Presnell, left, as they visit the Veterans Memorial at Appalachian State University. Presnell and Gibbard work in Appalachian’s Office of Academic Advising and Orientation. (Photo by Marie Freeman)

“As a soldier, Memorial Day has always had a special significance for me,” said Lt. Col. David Cox, who spoke at the Memorial Day ceremony at Appalachian State University. “It was a day to remember and honor the soldiers who came before me and gave their life serving this country.”

The day became more poignant following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, said Cox, who is chairman of Appalachian’s Department of Military Science and Leadership. “Shortly after Sept. 11, I was overseas in a war zone. People I knew and worked with were dying in this war.”

Cox spoke of the preparations soldiers made prior to entering battle, including updating their will and selecting songs and verses to be read at their funeral should they be killed in action. “When you start doing things like that, it gets real serious when you start thinking about Memorial Day,” he said.

He also spoke of Appalachian student and ROTC cadet Christopher Hasbrouck, who died last April from a heat injury sustained while participating in a 26.2 mile memorial march in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The Mountain Man Memorial March is an event where participants run or march to honor and remember a fallen soldier.

Cox attended the event this spring and was reminded of the importance that event holds to the families of those it honors.

“One of the fathers of one of the fallen soldiers we were marching for said that the biggest thing that the families who had lost loved ones wanted to know was that their soldier would not be forgotten – that he or she would always be remembered,” Cox said.

“As long as people continue to gather for Memorial Day ceremonies, those soldiers will not be forgotten. They will always be remembered,” he said.