Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Jerome Washington made it home to his family and friends after serving a deployment in Iraq while in the U.S. Army, something that many of his friends and comrades didn’t get to do.
Speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 as the keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Washington said that while he feels the pain of losing those comrades, and while many in the crowd have their own pain for ones they’ve lost who didn’t return from war, we must celebrate the lives and the service those men and women gave our country, that we could remain free.
“Yes, today is a somber day, but we come to celebrate the lives of the men and women who have blessed us and served this grateful nation and they have given us a true example of what patriotism is,” Washington said. “We must celebrate their lives, we must celebrate their service.”
Washington is a member of Operation Battle Born, which held its 2022 Ruck to Remember, marching from the state capital in Carson City to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, carrying 7,000 service member dog tags in ruck sacks. Those sacks were ceremonially placed in front of the podium during Monday’s service.
“We’re all here gathered with one common bond, to honor the service men and women who have given their life in war so that we may remain free,” Washington said. “We remember their stories. We remember their life. We remember their legacy and we reflect on the impact that they have on our lives.”
Washington said when our freedom was challenged and the enemies of our nation knocked on our door, it was these brave service men and women who answered the call.
“I served with men and women who exemplified selfless service and every day, no matter how they felt, no matter what we endured, it was duty first,” he said. “And although we endured some heartaches, although we endured some pain, although we endured some trouble, they donned that uniform not knowing what the day would bring. They stayed strong, they kept me strong, they’re my heroes and I was honored to serve with them.
“Let us be the United States of America they felt was worth defending and laying their life down for,” Washington added. “Let us honor their legacy, let us remember their service and let’s remember their sacrifice.”