Empty boots

American heroes died far from home over the past year:

Miguel L. Holmes

Albert J. Miller

Christopher K.A. Slutman

Benjamin S. Hines

Robert A. Hendriks

Joseph P. Collette

Will D. Lindsay

Joshua Z. Beale

Cameron A. Meddock

Joshua Mikeasky

Jason Mitchel McClary

Eric Michael Emond

Andrew Patrick Ross

Dylan J. Elchin

Leandro A.S. Jasso

Brent Taylor

James A. Slape

Diobanjo Sanagustin

Timothy Bolyard

Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion

Christopher Andrew Celiz

Joseph Macial

These 22 U.S. service members died in the Afghanistan war since Memorial Day 2018, according to the website iCasualties. They were killed by hostile fire, small arms, roadside bombs, suicide bombers, non-hostile fire and a vehicle accident. They served in the Army, Marine Reserve, Army National Guard and Air Force. The casualties include a major, sergeants, corporals, specialists and a private. Their home states range from Hawaii to New Jersey.

The U.S. Department of Defense reports that 2,287 Americans have died in Afghanistan since the war started weeks after the 9/11 attacks on America. That toll includes 71 deaths since the operation was renamed "Freedom's Sentinel" in December 2014.

These 22 aren't the only casualties; Americans fought and died for our country in other distant lands this past year — in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan and Germany. 

On Memorial Day 2019, Americans should take stock of what the sacrifice of men and women in the U.S. military has given us: Security and peace at home, freedom to enjoy our families, to earn a living, to express our opinions and to choose our government leaders.

There are many fun ways to celebrate this first holiday of summer. But first, let's take time to reflect on the somber reason why most of us aren't at work today. Memorial Day is a time to honor the memory of Americans lost in all wars — in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Africa and every where else that U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen have answered the call to defend the United States of America.

On Memorial Day, please remember what the day is about.

The public is invited to these Memorial Day ceremonies held today in Yellowstone County:

  • 8 a.m. Riverside Cemetery, 1316 Bitterroot Drive in Billings Heights. This is a very brief ceremony with a Marine Corps League color guard, prayer, taps and volley salute.
  • 10 a.m. Mountview Cemetery, 1704 Central Ave., with guest speaker Dawn Githens, director of the MSU Billings Military and Veterans Success Center.
  • 11:45 a.m. Yellowstone National Cemetery, 55 Buffalo Trail Road north of Laurel. Speakers include Northern Cheyenne Vice Chairman Winfield Russell, Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

The U.S. Marine Corps, American Legion, VFW and Billings Caledonian Pipes and Drums will participate in the Mountview and national cemetery ceremonies.

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