KILLEEN, Texas — Colonel Ian Palmer is Commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team under the 1st Cavalry Division. At the Killeen Memorial Day Ceremony Monday morning, Palmer outlined the purpose of the day and gave a challenge to those in attendance.
"(We) honor those that have sacrificed for our nation, remind ourselves the we have an obligation to remember them, and then we come together in communities to do both of those things on this day," Palmer said.
Palmer said the Memorial Day was originally known as "Decoration Day" and can be traced back to the end of the Civil War. The U.S. government standardized the observation of Memorial Day in 1968.
In additional to remembering soldiers, Palmer also challenged those in attendance to also learn more about our heroes who have passed away.
"Each of those men and women had their own story. They each had a mom and a dad. They each came from a hometown, sometimes not in the Unites States, and each one had a reason for serving." Palmer said. "I hope you join me in learning the story of someone you didn't know. put a human face to their sacrifice."
The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen is home to more than 6,000 fallen veterans, so there are many stories left to learn.
On Monday, 6 News spoke to the family of 1st SGT Anthony Wayne Bess who passed away in 2019.
Sister Stephenie Bess-Dunnaway told 6 News her brother was a comedian but also a loving protector.
"He always took care of me, even though adulthood," Dunnaway said.
Wife Iris Bess told 6 News they had been married 34 years and Anthony Bess had been in the Army for more than 29 years.
"He was a loving husband. He took care of me all the way to the end," Bess said. "He put us first before him."
Dunnaway told 6 News Bess served in the Army as a paratrooper in Afghanistan and was also an instructor. She remembers Bess showing her around Fort Hood.
Dunnaway told 6 News Bess's death was devastating and it took her three years to return to his grave today. She said she lost her best friend.
"He was my best friend. We would talk hours on the phone at 2 a.m. in the morning," Dunnaway said. "I miss him so much. So much. A big part of my heart is gone. It's a gaping hole."
Dunnaway said she believes she will see her brother again in the next life, and that keeps her going.
"My faith in Christ lets me know that I will see him again. And that's what I live for -- seeing him again. Keeping our family connected and loving on each other to get through this," Dunnaway said.
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