BILOXI (WLOX) -- A large crowd gathered in Biloxi National Cemetery Monday morning for the annual Memorial Day observance.
"We give you thanks for all those, our comrades, who have laid down their lives in the service of our country," said chaplain Kenneth Stevens, who delivered the invocation.
"That their sacrifices shall not have been in vain," continued the Civil Air Patrol member.
"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America," the crowd followed along, with hands over hearts.
Emcee Tasha Cooper of the 169th Engineer Battalion reminded everyone about the significance of the holiday.
"Church services, visits to the cemetery, flowers on graves or even silent tributes mark the day with dignity and reverence," she said.
Amanda Rhodes is director of the Biloxi National Cemetery.
"We honor the 17,000 individuals buried here today by this gathering. We will stand by their graves and consider the sacrifices they so nobly offered on behalf of a free and grateful nation," said Rhodes, "We will bring our children and our grand children so that they too can learn the lessons of patriotism, commitment to our nation and the values embraced by those who rest in honor here."
The keynote speaker was Keesler's commander, Col. Gregory Touhill.
"The men and women who have fallen in service of our country, today of all days we know they are not forgotten. You being here is that proof," he said.
"Today we remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors and our friends who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country," the commander told those gathered.
"May they rest in peace. And may light perpetually shine upon them," said Chaplain Stevens.