Epilogue
Hail the Conquering Heroes
Location:
Colonial War Memorial Hall, Yue City, Luna, Earth Sphere
Date: Tue 25 Nov 122
Time: UST 1500

The Colonial War Memorial was founded to commemorate the end of the Lunar Revolt. It was a rather contentious structure, but the Lunar Revolt was a rather contentious war, not that there are any wars that are cut-and-dry black-and-white, regardless of what the propagandists try to tell the masses.
However, this was a day to set aside political squabbling and celebrate the end of more than twenty years of war. As the Colonies bore the brunt of the fighting, it was deemed appropriate to hold this ceremony on Luna, the bridge between Earth and the Colonies.
Inside the auditorium of the Colonial War Memorial Hall, hundreds of civilian dignitaries and military personnel filled it to capacity. Live feeds streamed to every channel and band. This was a historic moment everyone in the Union was expected to take part in.
A Navy officer, one of the Chairwoman's adjutants, walked onto the stage and stood at the podium.
"All rise for the anthem," he said.
The Union's anthem played while military and civilian alike saluted the flag after their fashions. When it was done playing, they were not yet given leave to sit as the adjutant turned back from saluting the flag to say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Chairwoman of the World Council."
Chairwoman Liu approached the podium. The adjutant saluted her and withdrew. Not having military experience herself, Chairwoman Liu never returned the salute of military personnel. She would simply nod and this was understood as the cue to drop the salute. Once the adjutant withdrew, the Chairwoman addressed the audience.
"Citizens of the Union, greetings. As you all know, earlier today the World Council convened to officially declare an end to the war against the Sheol Empire. After twenty-four years of open war, we can finally close this bloody chapter of Union history. But before we do that, we must honor the many, many sacrifices that have been made up until now." She gestured to the ranks of mostly military personnel behind her. "With me are 186 Heroes of the Union and this day we will induct 37 more into their ranks. I would like to now cede the floor to my predecessor, the former World Council Chairman and Marshal of the Union, Janus Armitage."
In his capacity as Marshal of the Union, former Chairman Armitage wore his old Air Force uniform. There was no particular insignia designed for the post of Marshal of the Union at Armitage's insistence, as the post was created for him. He wore his former four stars from when he served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the days when the Joint Chiefs were awarded five-star ranks. Though he was approaching 80, he showed little sign of being in any way enfeebled by his age.
He smartly saluted the Chairwoman and then took her place at the podium.
"Thank you, Madame Chairwoman," he said with a nod the Chairwoman before turning his attention to the audience. "Fellow citizens, friends, comrades, brothers and sisters in arms, I am grateful and humbled that I have lived to see this day. We have lost too many of our brothers and sisters during the long and bloody years we have fought against the Sheolite menace. Today we honor but a few of the many whose deeds have helped preserve the Union. When I call your name, please step forward.
"Fleet Marshal Willem Van Daan, Earth Union Navy, Supreme Commander of the Earth Union Armed Forces."
The 37 recipients were lined up in descending order of rank. Marshal Van Daan strode out onto the stage, saluted the Marshal Armitage and Chairwoman Liu, then bowed to receive the Hero of the Union medal. Upon receiving the medal, it was Marshal Armitage's turn to salute him. They then shook hands and Marshal Van Daan took his place among the ranks of the previous recipients.
The list continued.
"General Claus Schreider, Earth Union Army, commander of the Martian Regional Joint Forces Command."
"Admiral Vicenzo Vicetti, Earth Union Navy, commander of Fifth Fleet."
"Lieutenant General Ernst Jacobi, Earth Union Army, commander of Eleventh Army."
"Lieutenant General Nadia Purnamasari, Earth Union Air Force, commander of Ninth Air Force."
"Vice Admiral Ibrahim Mfume, Earth Union Navy, commander of Heavy Carrier Battle Group One."
"Major General Oscar Gutteres, Earth Union Army, commander of the Tenth Army's Elysium Command."
"Rear Admiral Miroslav Ludikov, commander of Carrier Battle Group One-Three. Receiving on his behalf, his son."
"Commodore Phuong Thi Anh, commander of Carrier Battle Group One-Seven. Receiving on her behalf, her husband."
"The only double recipient of this award, Commodore Blake Frazier, Earth Union Navy, captain of the ESS Ticonderoga."
"Captain Arnodo Mercedes, captain of the ESS Laocoon. Receiving on his behalf, his wife."
"Colonel José Enrique Vasquez-Pilares, Earth Union Army, commander of the 78th Combined Arms Detachment and acting commander of the Eleventh Army's Argyre Command."
"Colonel Matthias Harold, Earth Union Air Force, commander of the 421st Fighter Squadron. For single-handedly destroying the Sheolite flagship Hades, Colonel Harold is also awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallant actions above and beyond the call of duty."
Few would imagine the pale, bespectacled Air Force officer who stepped forward for this unique double honor was a fighter pilot, much less the one responsible for sinking the Sheolite's giant flagship. He seemed somewhat unsteady on his feet as he approached Marshal Armitage and when the cameras zoomed in, you could see the quaking in his hand as he delivered his salute. Most observers would pay it little thought.
The ceremony continued and 24 more men and women proceeded to receive their awards, the last of which being a common citizen receiving the medal on behalf of his brother who was killed using his cargo truck to slow the Sheolite advance on the evacuating populace. Of the 37 awards, 21 were posthumous.
Once the trucker's brother took his place in the ranks, holding the medal's case in one hand and a picture of his slain brother in the other, Marshal Armitage continued, "While the title of Hero of the Union has been conferred to 387 men and women, we can never enumerate the countless heroes of the Union, men and women, military and civilian. These few are but a sample of the finest this Union has to offer. Their example will guide us in the years to come. Should the Union ever be threatened again, heroes like these will rise to meet the challenge.
"On behalf of the Earth Union, I extend my gratitude. Thank you. I invite the audience here and at home to give our Heroes a round of applause."
And so they did. If they were not already standing, everyone in the audience would certainly have risen at that moment. The applause was as much for the Heroes of the Union honored that day as for the ones whose names would never appear in the news reports or the history books, those countless heroes the Marshal spoke of, most of them ordinary men and women who would say they were doing nothing but their job, but in doing that job, they were made extraordinary.