SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Not only is Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer, but it also has a much deeper meaning in our country.

The national holiday was established for honoring and mourning American military personnel who died in combat.

Several ceremonies were held in Springfield today to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, one of those being at the Springfield National Cemetery.

Monday, May 29, a crowd at the cemetery heard speeches from veterans about their time in the military.

There was also a wreath-laying ceremony, a moment of silence, playing of taps and rifle volleys.

“It’s about these heroes out here,” Marine veteran Robert Mack said, “And somebody comes up and says, thank you for your service. I’m like, No, you thank these people. Don’t thank me, because Veteran’s Day is for that. This is Memorial Day.”

Mack comes to this ceremony every year, reminded of his close friends who gave their lives.

“One was named Torez, he got killed in Beirut, Lebanon,” Mack recalled, “But we were good friends, and I got to be good acquaintances with him. And he got killed in the Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. He got killed. And a couple of other friends of mine, the same way.”

For Springfield Mayor Ken McClure, this is a day of reverence.

“It’s always, to me, the most sacred day of the year as we honor veterans,” McClure said. “Memorial Day just means so much. And then you come together at the National Cemetery, which in and of itself is a place of reunification.”

McClure served in the United States Army from 1972-1980.

“I was proud to serve my country to do what we should do, and so it’s just an honor for me to do that,” McClure said.

McClure shared with OzarksFirst that watching the people of Springfield come together today is a moving experience for him.
“We have a great country and the things that divide us are far outweighed by the things that unite us, and this day, to me, is what symbolizes that,” McClure said.

“That’s what this day is for,” Mack said. “It’s not about the barbecue and the fireworks. It’s about honoring the people who gave their lives.”