(KMOX)-From Alton, Illinois to O’Fallon, Missouri, thousands of area residents are taking time on this beautiful Monday to remember those who gave their lives for their country.
One of the larger ceremonies took place amidst the thousands of graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis County.
Kevin Hassenpflug, an Air Force Veteran, brought his 12 and 14-year-old sons. “Memorial Day,” he says, “is a sad, poignant reminder of all those men and women who died protecting freedom. Protecting American dreams, cultures, values and customs.”
It’s something Hassenpflug wants to instill in his sons. “Make sure they are remembering today as well is an important American day that we must pay some type of honor to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”
Sitting on a blanket with her 10-month old grandson, Gail McKindley was there for her father. “He’s been gone four years now,” she said, choking back tears. “We started coming here with him so, continue the tradition.”
McKindley says her father took part in the ceremonies for about ten years, as part of the Korean War Veterans Association.
She hopes that some day, her grandson will carry on the tradition.
Mark Meeden tried to join the Navy, but failed the physical. But several of his family members served, and he was there to honor them and the nation. “Life and liberty. Support the Constitution. Everything that is America.”
At one point during the keynote address by Past State Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Thomas Mundell, two vintage aircraft circled the service in what appeared to be an impromptu flyover.