2018-06-01 / Front Page

SURVIVOR OUTREACH

Ceremony honors survivors
Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Tara Cockerham, visiting from Liberty, Mississippi, for the Warrior Remembrance Ceremony, places a flag at Freedom Park in memory of her brother, Sgt. Taurean Harris. The Harrises, a military family, traveled from Liberty to take part in the memorial event, recalling the 22-year-old who died in 2007 from injuries from a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan, in Operation Enduring Freedom. 
Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Tara Cockerham, visiting from Liberty, Mississippi, for the Warrior Remembrance Ceremony, places a flag at Freedom Park in memory of her brother, Sgt. Taurean Harris. The Harrises, a military family, traveled from Liberty to take part in the memorial event, recalling the 22-year-old who died in 2007 from injuries from a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan, in Operation Enduring Freedom. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Fort Gordon Survivor Outreach Services hosted its annual Warrior Remembrance Ceremony at Freedom Park on May 24.

The ceremony was an intimate time for friends and families of fallen Servicemembers to reflect on their loved ones’ lives, sacrifices, and service to the nation.

Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Todd Turner assured survivors that their loved ones’ service would never be forgotten.

“By having you here and sharing this day with you, it is my sincere hope as we reflect on their sacrifices and their contributions and by declaring together we remember – that we will not forget – that we are paying proper tribute to both the Servicemember and you.”


Augusta resident Jennie Hope places a flag in Freedom Park May 24, in memory of her husband, Staff Sgt. Rodney G. Hope. Next in line is Hephzibah resident Deborah Carr, honoring Carr’s son, the late Pfc. Christopher Williams. 
Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Augusta resident Jennie Hope places a flag in Freedom Park May 24, in memory of her husband, Staff Sgt. Rodney G. Hope. Next in line is Hephzibah resident Deborah Carr, honoring Carr’s son, the late Pfc. Christopher Williams. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Every year on the last Monday of May, people across the nation remember those who died while serving in the Armed Forces in what is recognized as Memorial Day. Holding the Warrior Remembrance Ceremony close to Memorial Day is one way for SOS to recognize that family members also serve, and that when their Servicemember passes on, the military remains committed to continuing its service to the families.

“There is no greater duty for those of us that remain in uniform than to ensure you are taken care of and that you know you can come to us if you need any assistance,” Turner said.

Fort Gordon SOS launched in 2009 to meet the needs of survivors with resources and support to families of fallen Servicemembers as long as they wish to be connected to the military – regardless of when or how their Servicemember passed.

“Our military is very committed to making sure that survivors feel part of the Army and military family for as long as they choose, and that’s why we are here,” said Jolane Williams, SOS financial counselor.

Turner emphasized that whether a loved one was lost in service or retirement, each person was “exceptional” because they chose to be part of something larger than themselves. And in doing so, they were entitled to the best, and their families deserved be taken care of.

“By taking an oath and putting on the uniform, they became us, and we still stand together as all families do because death has not erased their memories or legacy or dimmed the light that they brought to this world,” Turner said.

Closing out the ceremony, survivors were presented with a flag and escorted to the Tree of Remembrance where they placed flags at the base of the tree. A moment of silence ensued, then hugs and emotional stories of loved ones passed were shared.

“It’s always nice to come and honor my son ... but it’s difficult at times,” said Yolanda Wagner, mother of Sgt. Taurean T. Harris. Wagner and six of her family members drove about 10 hours from Liberty, Mississippi, to honor Harris, who was assigned to 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion. Harris was killed while serving in Afghanistan on Aug. 2, 2007.

Wagner said that she and her family honor Harris by traveling to functions together while wearing a T-shirt bearing her son’s name and picture. She said events like the Warrior Remembrance Ceremony are important because it lets people know that their loves ones’ service is not forgotten.

“It shows that people still care, and that makes a big difference,” Wagner said.

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