Hundreds honor fallen service members at Biloxi National Cemetery

By A.J. Giardina - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - More than 600 people came to Biloxi National Cemetery Monday to honor the men and women who died in service to our country.

"The banner, our flag, like the one that greeted you here today or like the small flags that decorate our veterans' graves, remind us with its red stripes of the blood that was spilled and the sacrifices laid upon the alters of freedom," Gregory Lee said.

Quoting John 15:13, Chaplain Kenneth Stevens said, "Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Biloxi National Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 17,000 veterans and their families. Eight hundred burials take place there every year for men and women who served in wars years ago, and for those defending America today.

"Let us never forget the ultimate cost of freedom. Let us never forget that freedom is not free. Many have paid the price. Others are in harm's way today. There are some 5,976 who have paid the ultimate price in the Global War on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan," Major General Alfred Flowers said.

One of them is Ben Brosh, who died in Iraq on April 18, 2008. His family was among those there Monday to remember a lost loved one.

Nearby was the wife and daughter of Gulfport Seabee Joel Baldwin. On his final mission, the 37-year-old builder chief was involved in surveying details in Mosul, Iraq. On December 21, 2004, a powerful explosion ripped through the crowded dining facility where Chief Baldwin was having lunch.

Chief Baldwin's wife, Claudia, and daughter Cali have visited his gravesite many times, but this was their first time to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Biloxi National.

"It was difficult, very difficult. But a lot of support, a lot of love from our community, and, of course, that is always a bonus," Claudia Baldwin said. "Everybody is still remembering Joel... It's just an honor to be here."

"I remember him and I love him, and I put flowers down on the memorial for him," Cali Baldwin said.

Memorial Day services were held throughout the coast, but the one at Biloxi National Cemetery was the largest.

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