Hundreds gather at Biloxi National Cemetery to pay tribute on Memorial Day

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi National Cemetery hosts one of the largest Memorial Day observances in South Mississippi, and this year was no exception. Several hundred people attended the solemn ceremony on Monday morning. The patriotic crowd took time to remember, honor and say thank you.

"As we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, Lord we ask you to bless their loved ones with your comfort and compassion," said Lt. Joseph Daniel Johnson, who delivered the invocation.

Abundant sunshine and a gentle breeze greeted the large crowd for this annual observance. Thousands of military grave stones, decorated with American flags, offered inspiration.

"Memorial Day is also a day of personal remembrance. Families and individuals honor the memories of their loved ones who have died," said emcee and veteran Charlie Barnes.

Chris Moore's strong voice echoed across the crowd and adjoining cemetery, as he sang the National Anthem; setting the appropriate mood to honor and remember the sacrifices.

"We enjoy the lives we lead because of the generations of young Americans who gave their lives so all of us can live in freedom and prosperity," said Cemetery Director Margaret Ayres.

"It's a time to remember that over a million Americans died fighting so that we could be here in this beautiful place today. And we're free," said General Bradley Spacy.

When a microphone malfunctioned, General Spacy did what any good leader would: He improvised; stepping toward the crowd and talking passionately about protecting freedom.

"This is our fight. And we must fight. And we must be found worthy to stand next to them. To stand here in this sacred place like this. To someday lay next to the heroes we're around here," he said, "This is our fight. We have to fight it, and we have to win. And we will win. Because we're Americans."

Americans who appreciate, honor, and respect those men and women who step into harm's way to preserve and protect our cherished way of life.

While General Spacy recognized the so-called "greatest generation" of World War II veterans, he also said that each new generation faces its own challenges in the ongoing fight for freedom.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.