The men and women who "gave up their tomorrows so we could enjoy ours," were paid tribute on Monday during a special ceremony inside the National Guard Armory on the campus of Pittsburg State University.


 

The men and women who "gave up their tomorrows so we could enjoy ours," were paid tribute on Monday during a special ceremony inside the National Guard Armory on the campus of Pittsburg State University.

"On this Memorial Day, we remember those who have given their lives in defense of this country," said Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James AuBuchon. "May we always hold them in our memories."

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. (Ret.) George Lampe, the keynote speaker for the ceremony, encouraged those in attendance to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

"We're here to remember and honor true and legitimate real American heroes," he said. "There is nothing wrong with remembering and honoring family and friends who did not even serve in the military, let alone die while serving. But we also need to remember those who did serve, and keep them in mind on this day."

Lampe said he was honored to be asked to again give the keynote address during the Memorial Day ceremony in Pittsburg, an honor also bestowed upon him in 2006. 

"This means more to me than you can possibly imagine," said Lampe, a Texas resident who still considers himself a "Pittsburg, Kansas, home-boy."

Born in Harper, Lampe graduated from Pittsburg High School before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from PSU and a Master of Arts degree from Webster University in St. Louis. He served for more than 31 years in the U.S. Air Force.

His major awards and decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Defense Superior Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Air Force Commendation Medals and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

Lampe was recently inducted into the Air Force Communications and Information Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. 

Also during Monday's ceremony, four Frontenac High School students — Logan Falletti, Ashley Lock, Kevin McCollam and Ryan Zafuta — read the names of soldiers from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas who have died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Families of veterans also were honored on Monday during the unveiling of new pavers at the Veterans Memorial. AuBuchon said there were approximately 20 new pavers unveiled during the ceremony.

Other activities during the ceremony included musical performances by the Joplin Tristatesmen and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Men's Chorus, a wreath laying ceremony by Pittsburg Mayor and National Guard soldier Rudy Draper and "Taps" was performed by Todd Hastings and Aaron Metzger.

Monday's ceremony was scheduled to take place at the PSU Veterans Memorial, but rain forced the event indoors.