SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Old Glory could be seen flying proudly across the Ozarks Memorial Day as local residents paused to remember the nation’s fallen heroes.
At the National Cemetery in Springfield, Ted Hilmer, with Wilson’s Creek Battlefield, spoke to visitors about the history of the holiday and what it meant to one of America’s greatest presidents.
“If the Fourth of July renews the birth of a nation, Decoration Day renews the memory of those who gave their lives that the nation might live,” he says. “Or in Lincoln’s words, ‘that this nation might have a new birth of freedom.'”
But veterans, like Korean War veteran, Bobby Wixson, knows those freedoms come at a cost.
“It’s a time you honor those that made the supreme sacrifice,” Wixson says, while waiting for the ceremony at the Missouri’s Veterans Cemetery to start.
“They are the ones that are the heroes to us,” he says. “Because they are the ones that didn’t get to come back.”
“The [ceremony] is beautiful,” says Republic resident, Sandra Morgan. “They deserve the respect that they’re getting.”
Morgan’s trip to the ceremony has a special meaning. Her husband served in Vietnam; she lost him two years ago.
“He always wanted to be [at the Veteran’s Cemetery],” she says. “We used to come down here all the time before he passed away. That’s where he wants to be, so he’s home.”
For others, they can’t help but reflect on the sacrifices made by all military members, even those luckily enough to come home from war.
“For me, I know it would be really hard for me to leave my family and serve the country,” says Tyler Bates, who is visiting the grave of his grandfather. “Even though I know it would be something good to do.”
The takeaway from each person is a little different on Memorial Day, but they are all united by those who fought to make sure there would be an opportunity to remember.
“They give us all the liberties and the things that we have today,” says Wixson. “Without them, we wouldn’t have this opportunity.”
The National Parks Service told visitors Memorial Day, then Decoration Day, was started as a post Civil War holiday in 1868.