Killeen: Memorial Day Honors Fallen, Unveils Monument at Killeen Cemetery

By: Kristin Gordon Email
By: Kristin Gordon Email

KILLEEN (May 17, 2013) The repetition of gun fire and playing of taps could be heard throughout America's fifty states. Because men and women in uniform made it possible.

"Today means all the men and women who died serving our country in combat," said Suzanne Lawrence, president Women's Army Corp Killeen Chapter. "And now we are free to celebrate their sacrifice and I think it's awesome how free our country is and we can do things like this."

Lawrence and her husband served in the armed forces together. He received shrapnel in his back while serving in Vietnam.

Lawrence had to end her Army career at Fort Hood when a soldier accidently struck her with his vehicle while she was crossing the road.

Her husband died in 2006. "My husband is buried here in the fourth row. It's terrible how many rows there is since 2006 when he passed away."

The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen was dedicated in 2006 and has a capacity for 50,000 burials and interments of cremated remains. And vacancies continue to be filled.

"I think its really awesome seeing all the flags in front of the graves, but they made the ultimate sacrifice," said Lawrence. "Some of them carried wounds with them after they went into combat and they died from some of those wounds later on."

Lawrence said she reminds her grandchildren what Memorial Day really means by explaining what she and her husband use to do in the military and how sometimes they were sent to different locations.

"'They (her grandchildren) are really proud that I served in the military."

Lawrence loves sharing and listening to stories from veterans.

"One of the ladies told me that she landed on the beach in Normandy. You hear all the time about men but you don't hear about the woman landing on the beach in Normandy. "She was a nurse of course, but she had to go in with them also. That really impressed me."

When the ceremony ended hundreds of attendees walked over to the unveiling of memorial slate.

"We are here today in honor of my husband Michael Strachota who passed away this past year in Afghanistan," said Lauren Strachota, talking about her husband as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Michael was hit by an Afghan civilian truck that was carrying fuel. The cab came off and hit his truck causing an explosion.

Michael was on his way home for leave and also to celebrate his son, William's, third birthday.

The new memorial had six names and photos of soldiers who died in 2012 from Fort Hood.

The photo of Michael and his son was taken in the motor pool the day he deployed for Afghanistan.

Lauren said her husband is buried in Arkansas, but that is happy there is a remembrance of him near Fort Hood.

"I think its great, i think its a great way to remember him here, to keep his name here. keep their name alive to keep them in your memory and never forget them."

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