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Fort Logan Memorial Day Ceremony Largest Some Have Seen

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - On Memorial Day 2017, an estimated 1,000 people gathered at Fort Logan National Cemetery for the 85th Anniversary of Remembrance in honor of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to America.

PHOTO GALLERY: Memorial Day At Fort Logan National Cemetery

Veterans stood proudly when their branch of the service was called. The colors of the day were red for heroism, white for purity, blue for service.

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"Today on Memorial Day we honor those who paid the ultimate price for me -- for you and for the entire country that we live in," said Sallie A. Houser-Hanfelder, FACHE Director, Eastern Colorado Health Care System.

Sgt. Conor McDaniel with the 4th Infantry Division came to remember friends recently lost.

"It's one of the harder days," he said.

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David McDaniel was there for his soldier son and all who serve.

"I think it is really, really important to keep perspective and to keep people remembering what this country's about and how we earned our freedom," said the elder McDaniel.

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It was a day to make sure that fallen heroes of all wars, while gone, are not forgotten. Patti Sampers and Jeanette Early are Gold Star wives whose husbands were killed in Vietnam, an unpopular war .

"It has changed tremendously, thank God. There's more support there's more respect, " said Early.

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Colorado U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a combat veteran with 21 years of service, spoke to the crowd that he said was the largest he has seen at the annual event.

"Today it is amazing how Americans feel about the men and women who serve in the military and the men and women who have served in the military," Coffman said.

Those who served and died were remembered on this Memorial Day not as victims, but as protectors who died to keep America free.

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Rep. Mike Coffman (credit: CBS)

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. service members who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from "Decoration Day" to "Memorial Day," which was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.

Fort Logan National Cemetery
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On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included George Washington's birthday and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

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Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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