Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Lucca Elliott, 9, etches the name of his uncle Charles Warren during the 10th annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial in Lawrenceville Monday. Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Warren of Duluth died while serving with the Army National Guard in Baghdad, Iraq on August 3, 2005.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The responsibility for those who come after fallen heroes is to live their lives in a manner that honors those who makes this life in America possible.
That was one message from keynote speaker Daniel J. Kaufman at Monday afternoon's Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial ceremony. Nearly 200 people attended the 10th annual ceremony, the largest ever, under sunny and breezy skies and attended by veterans, relatives of veterans and local and state officials.
Members of the Fallen Heroes Memorial Advisory Committee were also given proclamations from Chairwoman Charlotte Nash at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.
Nash told Ron Buice, Carolyn Buice, Jim Argo and Mike Finch that she was glad that they didn't give up on an idea that they first had in 1993.
"This is something that's going to stand here and be a testament for years to come," Nash said.
Honor guard units from the Gwinnett County Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Sheriff's Departments and the Lawrenceville Police Department participated, and Snellville police officer Thad Clark sang the national anthem. There was also a laying of the wreath, a 3-volley salute and "Taps" played.
"The one moment in time, for one hour a year, you come in and think about the people in your life, even after they've passed, their legacy," Ron Buice said.
Kaufman, the outgoing Georgia Gwinnett College president and incoming Gwinnett Chamber president and CEO, said the holiday comes with mixed emotions of reflection and gratitude, "as we remember and honor the sacrifices of over 1 million Americans."
It's a day of personal sorrow, but also to be proud of the nation and to honor the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Kaufman said.
"To the generations of service men and women who sacrificed what we honor today, we can only offer our humble thanks and profound admiration, for what they did literally changed the world," said Kaufman, a retired Brigadier General who also served in the Vietnam War. "We remember them as full of life, forever young, taken in the full flower of youth. We carry them with us everyday. Gone, but never forgotten."
Kaufman told a story about a fallen colleague, who rode with Kaufman in an armored vehicle in Vietnam, and who regularly jumped off the vehicle to help wounded members of the platoon.
"He was killed by enemy fire doing what he always does," Kaufman said, "trying to save others."
Kaufman told the story to remind those in the audience that things everyone does everyday will make a difference in someone's life.
"A difference they will remember everyday for the rest of their lives," he said. "That, it seems to me, is the best way to honor those who never got the chance to live the life that we are so privileged to enjoy today."