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South Florida pauses on Memorial Day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice

South Florida honors the fallen on Memorial Day
South Florida honors the fallen on Memorial Day 03:37

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Several events were held on Memorial Day Monday to honor those who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

At Lauderdale Park Memorial Cemetery, dozens of people gathered to attend a memorial service and one participant was Rich St. John, who served during the Vietnam War.

"I just want everybody to remember that freedom is not free," he said. "And there is a cost."

St. John was a communications specialist with the Marines while he was stationed in the central coast of Vietnam. At other times, however, he was part of the mission to protect his base.

Memorial Day 2023 events
Memorial Day observations in South Florida to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. CBS News Miami

Although he made it out alive, some of his fellow service members, unfortunately, did not. 

"I did lose a few friends there," he said. 

That's why he thinks of those lives lost on Memorial Day and during a past honor flight.

"And those of us that came back alive, sometimes there are still injuries," St. John said, adding that he remains proud to have served and hopes younger generations will become more interested in serving their country. "I loved doing my small part to protect my country, the United States of America."

Also on Monday, U.S. Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson was honored for his sacrifice.

The Miami native was killed in 2017 during an ambush attack in Niger 

During a Memorial Day breakfast in Miami Gardens, his mother delivered an emotional speech to pay tribute to her son.

"He was one wonderful son," Samara Johnson said. "He gave so much for his country, but he gave the same for his family. and as i see my grandbabies growing up without him, it hurts."

CBS News Miami Jacqueline Quynh contributed to this report.

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