Story by Jennifer Bacchus on 11/15/2018ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Lt. Col. Roshun Steele, commander of the Anniston Munitions Center, spoke at the annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Anniston Army Depot Nov. 8 at the Physical Fitness Center.
Speaking to a large crowd of employees from throughout the depot and its tenant organizations, Steele encouraged everyone to thank the Veterans they see through their actions, as well as words.
"My challenge to you today is to express your gratitude - not just in words, not just for one day - but, through your deeds everyday when you open your hearts and give hope to our returning heroes," said Steele.
She shared a day from one of her deployments.
Her time overseas was coming to an end. She had missed holidays, graduations, birthdays and her grandmother's funeral during that deployment and was anticipating the day she would return home.
Then, the turmoil around her brought her back to reality.
"We had just lost five Soldiers to four IED attacks," said Steele, adding that it was her job to ensure the bodies made it home.
"At that moment, all I could think about was what their families were going through and how they would never see their loved ones again."
That deployment and those losses reverberated through her as she cried watching the bodies be loaded onto the plane which would carry them home.
It further reverberated through her when a fellow Soldier took her life following that deployment.
She asked the crowd to remember not only those Veterans who have served, but also those still serving, those who lost their lives while serving and those who sacrificed their mental health in service.
"Tell a Veteran thank you and that you have their back," she said.
Veterans Day means so much more to Steele than just a day when her service is honored.
Coming from a military family, she recalls her grandfather who served in the Navy, her brother who serves in the Army, her cousins who have served and continue to serve in the Navy and the Marines, the aunt who served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm and the three uncles who were in the Army during the Vietnam War.
And she remembers those who have served alongside her. Those who had bonds stronger than friendship forged in times of hardship, stress and fatigue, through long days and late nights.
"Our nation, our freedom, our prosperity, our hopes for the future - we owe them all to our Veterans," said Steele. "Truly, this debt can never be paid."
The depot honored its more than 700 Veterans from all services through a slide show and a medley of the service songs.
As each song rang out through the PFC, those who served in that branch were asked to stand. Many sang along to the tune, especially when it came to the Army Song, which saw more than half of the audience stand.