Coast Honors Its Deceased Veterans

This Memorial Day was the first since the death of Julia Encalade's father, a man who did three tours in Vietnam while in the Air Force. As she watched the Memorial Day ceremony at the Biloxi National Cemetery, Julia said her father's passing has given her a deeper understanding of what it means to honor those who devoted their lives to protecting this country.

"It brought a tear to my eye because I realize exactly what they went through for their country and for all of us to have the freedom and peace that we do have," Encalade said.

Memorial Day is the day we remember the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. At the Biloxi National Cemetery active, reserve and retired military personnel joined members of the community in remembering those who died preserving our nation's freedoms. Officials say attendance at the Memorial Day service has grown tremendously over the years.

"We've had to increase our seating by 100 additional seats this year because the last couple of years we had standing room only," said Jerry Shuster, Biloxi National Cemetery Memorial committee chairman. "That's not right for the people that come out for this program."

Organizers of the Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Biloxi say after declining for several years, the number of people who come out has started to pick up. They say younger people are realizing the importance of recognizing the sacrifices of the generations before them.

"I feel it's important because we have to keep our patriotism up and our United States strong," Post Commander Bruce Ketzel said.

People at the services say as long as there are people willing to lay down their lives in defense of freedom our country will remain strong.

by Danielle Thomas