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Meaning Of Memorial Day Lives On At Long Island National Cemetery: 'Remember What It Cost'

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Memorial Day is not only about the beach or the barbecues. It's a day to honor the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

Honoring a solder's service and sacrifice is everything in the eyes of 8-year-old Joshua Belferder, of Belmore.

"I might want to be an Army officer or something in the Army," he told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis. "I want to protect the country."

Until then, he plans to visit the Long Island National Cemetery each Memorial Day to put flags at heroes' headstones.

"To honor all the men and women who sacrificed their lives," he said.

With the help of family and friends, Belferder puts 200 small flags alongside those already placed at the more than 250,000 gravesites there.

The tradition to place a flag at each gravesite was canceled last year due to the pandemic, but volunteers made it happen this Memorial Day, despite the weekend's weather.

Even with the National Cemetery Administration calling off last year's events, many still came out on their own and returned again this year to visit family.

"Extremely moving. These people all gave their lives for a cause," said Robert Burn, of Bethpage. "They fought to keep the country free."

It was close to the hearts of Robert and his brother, Scott Burn, who came from a military family.

"My mother was platoon sergeant in the Marine Corps. My father was a tech sergeant in the Air Force. I was Army," Scott said.

All committed to fighting for the country's freedom.

"Remember, remember what it cost. It's not free," Scott added.

Members of the Wyandanch Volunteer Fire Company paid tribute to one of their own.

"Kevin VerPault -- he was a member of our fire house who got killed in Vietnam," Allan Goetz, of the fire company, said. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life for this country."

Honoring him and all the heroes who never made it home is the reason we reflect on this important day.

You can now honor veterans in an online memorial space managed by the National Cemetery Association. Click here to visit the Veterans Legacy Memorial.
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