(Memphis) Even before the ceremony started, families gathered at grave sites at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery.
Some, like Chenise Thompson, too young to remember what was lost, but still paying honor to her late grandfather who served in the Navy during World War II.
“I wish I would have known him,” said Chenise, a sixth grader.
“He was a good person. He served his country. She didn’t get to know him. She was born after the fact, but he was a good person,” said Chenise’s mother, Rose Wheeler.
There were plenty of memories to share as families, veterans and even those still serving paused to reflect.
A commemorative Air Force Fly Over was held to pay homage, and a 21 gun salute to assure the sacrifices are never forgotten.
“Every day, we owe these brave men and women more than a flag draped coffin, more than a solemn place to rest, more than a building or training facility or a street named in their honor and much, much more than a moment of silence,” said Marvin Hill, a retired Command Sergeant Major, who gave the memorial address.
James Elsner knows more is owed, “Our freedoms come from service members like his father, an Army Solider.”
Now Elsner’s daughter will follow in her grand dad’s footsteps, serving her country, “I miss him. My family would be real proud of him. He would be real proud of my daughter. She is about to take a journey and go into training in Georgia.”
To those who have and continue to sacrifice, Elsner says, “Not forgotten. They will always be in our hearts our prayers.”
The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery Support Group presented Monday’s memorial service.