OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hundreds gathered Monday morning at the 45th Infantry Division Museum on Memorial Day, to honor service members of all branches who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

Memorial Day is a day many relax and reflect.

It’s also a day that carries a heavier meaning, honoring those who gave their life in service.

“It’s not about eating hot dogs and going to the lake. This is a day of honored remembrance,” said Thomas Mancino Adjutant General of the State of Oklahoma. That’s what a key note speaker at this morning’s Memorial Day Ceremony said to remind people today is about those who died while serving in the U.S. military.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, we salute all of our fallen heroes and pledge to never forget Thank you for joining me today to honor all those who gave up their todays so that we could all have a tomorrow,” said Mancino.

A group of brothers who all served time during the Vietnam War were a part of the over 400 people who attended this morning’s ceremony. 

“I think that the military and the flag that we have today is the most wonderful thing to have,” said Jack Giddens, Military Branch: Navy. 

Each brother, including one who was unable to attend, served in a different branch of the military.  

“It’s just nice to know that all the brothers was patriotic enough to want to be in the military. It is just something we try to give back to our country, which we love dearly,” said Leroy Giddens, Military Branch: Air Force.  
 
“We’ve got to respect the ones that did not make it back and their families because they’re truly missed. And you got to have the families to support what we done in the military. If you didn’t have the families what we done and traveled and different places with us. And it’s hard for the soldiers to do it without the families,” said Charles Giddens, Military Branch, Army. 

One of the brothers started the Path of Remembrance at the Museum in honor of fallen soldiers.  

“We’ve got four cemeteries in Europe that have soldiers that did not make it home that are buried over there. The Path of Remembrance is put in a monument at the cemetery to recognize these soldiers that are still buried over there and near and the and that for now, France, we just dedicated a monument back in September… And in that cemetery, there’s 5426 American soldiers that did not make it home. 423 that are unknown still in that cemetery and their families don’t know,” said Charles Giddens.

The ceremony also featured music, military ceremonies and key note speakers who talked about the 45th’s crucial role since world war two.  

“When we talk about Memorial Day, Oklahoma was a force to be reckoned with during World War Two, and the reason we’re pretty well known worldwide for the things that and for the things that we did during that time the days we serve, even today and the conflicts that we face, that Oklahoma is kind of the gold star standard of how things are supposed to go,” said Brandon Burris, Chaplin, Oklahoma National Guard.

Per capita, the Oklahoma army and national guard has deployed more personnel than any other state.

 

“Even today, we’re no longer fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, but we are continuing to deploy in support of our nation… and next year we will have in excess of about 1,500 soldiers and airmen deployed back overseas in support of our nation,” said Mancino.

To remember these accomplishments, a new $41 million National Guard Museum will break ground in the next 12 to 18 months.

“What we’re trying to do is turn this entire corner here into a veterans corner in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. So, with the support of the governor and the legislature, we’ve been able to get a bond issue. We’re very thankful for that. and we’re going to be building this new museum,” said Mancino.