Memorial Day Honors Military Sacrifice

Thoughts of September 11th helped make this Memorial Day something special.

Ceremonies to honor America's military dead included a remembrance of those civilians who died when freedom came under attack last fall.

The renewed patriotism since September boosted attendance at several Memorial Day events, including the ceremony at Biloxi's National Cemetery.

Chaplain Kenric Conway set the mood for the solemn ceremony.

"And so today we honor the many, many veterans who gave their life. Who stood firm, willing to protect us," said Conway during the opening prayer.

The Biloxi National Cemetery provided an appropriate backdrop as hundreds gathered to honor the sacrifice of America's military.

"Ultimately they went to war, struggled, survived, returned or died in order to preserve their freedom, their independence and their liberty. And all of ours," said kenote speaker, Colonel Marietta Stanton, who commands the 75th Combat Support Hospital in Alabama.

Faces in the crowd reflected the dedication of past sacrifice. Freedom demands an ongoing price. September 11th brought that message closer to home.

"Reminds every single one of us as citizens that we too might pay the ultimate price to fulfill our responsibility and duty to our family, ourselves and our nation," said Stanton.

Veteran Jack Sloan understands Memorial Day all too well. The Biloxi resident lost friends in World War Two.

"It means a great deal to me. It's very, very eventful. I just, I really can't talk about it. I lost a lot of friends," recalled Sloan.

Memorial wreaths helped remember those who never returned. Along with recognizing the military sacrifice, this year's observance called to mind the impact of September 11th.

"Since 9-11 that has broadened. We now are thinking about the firefighters and civilians that lost their lives. So, really Memorial Day is taking on a new meaning," said David Fullerton, who works at the 75th Combat Support Hospital.

It's a new meaning perhaps, but also a time honored tradition and commitment to those who wear the uniform.

Americans like Marlene Mason, who joined the United States Army.

"I love my country. And somebody has to fight for it. And I have the guts to do it. And the spirit to do it. And to go forward," said Mason.

She understands the dedication protecting America demands.  Even if it means the ultimate sacrifice.