BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the men and women who gave their lives to keep our nation free. Throughout the United States, honoring the brave men and women who have served our country took many forms Monday in the midst of the coronavirus. At the Biloxi National Cemetery, what is usually a well-attended memorial, took on a quiet and more reflective tone.
Flags were not placed in front of headstones this weekend, and crowds did not congregate for the annual placing of the wreath Monday at Biloxi National Cemetery. Ten or twelve people did show, and flags adorned a smattering of headstones as the coronavirus did not stop families and service members from remembering their loved ones who either spent their lives in the service of our country or paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
“We’re out here placing flags. We still wanted to honor those who have gone before us and paid that ultimate sacrifice. We feel that regardless of what’s going on, we still must do that each and every time, every year, no matter the circumstances," said one active-duty service member who was out with his family placing flags in front headstones.
“There’s so many things that have been turned off and so many things that have been put on hold. But, to pay tribute to our fallen comrades, our brothers and sisters in arms who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, is non-negotiable," said US Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Tim Cross. “Their sacrifices are too great and too noble for us not to continue such an honorable ceremony such as today," said Cross.
Michael Robinson spends his days, as he has for the last 35 years, as a lead lineman with Mississippi Power. However, Monday, his job was different. For Robinson, Memorial Day hits close to home. “When I was overseas in the Marines, shortly thereafter, the barracks in Beirut, Lebanon were blown up. We lost 241 soldiers and servicemen that day. It’s just important to remember these people and their families and what they went through. I think it’s respectful to honor them in this way," Robinson said.
As the state commander for the VFW, Stephan Trochessett was the keynote speaker. Trochessett understands the challenges that go with holding a memorial of this caliber during a pandemic. “Where you would normally get together as families and friends, and have your remembrances and celebrations of their lives, it’s much more difficult to do that during this time. There’s nothing more important than someone giving down their lives for their friends, and there should be nothing that would stand in the way for us coming out here to honor that," Trochessett said.
Monday’s salute to our fallen heroes ended the names of Mississippi’s fallen service members read aloud, one-by-one, and Taps— a somber reminder that Memorial Day is about so much more than grills and swimming pools and boat rides; it’s about preserving the memory of those brave men and women that paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy days like today.