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Great Lakes National Cemetery hosts annual Memorial Day ceremony

Great Lakes National Cemetery hosts annual Memorial Day ceremony
Great Lakes National Cemetery hosts annual Memorial Day ceremony 02:20

HOLLY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly held its 19th annual Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday to honor those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer family fun, but those who visit the Great Lakes National Cemetery around this time each year are reconnecting with family members who gave their lives for the rest of us.

Thousands of flags placed at the headstones of American soldiers at the Great Lakes National Cemetery signify the freedom we all enjoy today at the cost of their sacrifice.

While hundreds listened to moving speeches honoring the fallen, Amber Hardy found peace a few hundred yards away, connecting with her father, who served in Vietnam, and her mother, who rests beside him.

"Sometimes it's difficult, of course, but today I am at peace, and it will be nine years this year, so I feel like I'm closer to him still, and my mom. So, I try to make it a point to come out here and visit them both," Hardy said. 

Many of these soldiers won't get a personal visit during Memorial Day weekend, but that doesn't mean their sacrifice isn't personal to everyone who attended Sunday's ceremony.

The Great Lakes National Cemetery uses Sunday to honor those immortalized by these headstones, so those in attendance can continue to honor those who gave their lives with their local communities on Monday.

"They live on in our hearts, then, now, and forever," said keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Donald Schenk. "As I turned to leave, I hesitated, looked back at the wall, and said aloud, 'Thank you.' And I swear I heard a voice carried in the wind whisper, 'Never forget.'

For some, like Hardy, this is a very personal day. For others, like the hundreds in attendance at Sunday's ceremony, Memorial Day means community. But for the thousands of American soldiers buried here, Memorial Day means their sacrifice was not in vain.

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