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Hundreds gather at national cemeteries to celebrate Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, more than 100 national cemeteries held celebrations to honor those killed in military service.
Memorial Day
Posted at 3:56 PM, May 27, 2024

American flags and flowers adorned grave sites of fallen military members in national cemeteries around the country this Memorial Day.

More than 4 million Americans are buried in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' 155 national cemeteries, and thousands of people gathered at 130 of them for sponsored holiday events Monday, which included rifle salutes, patriotic music and, in some locations, an F-16 flyover.

"This day means everything to me," said Bill Schultz, who came to visit the gravesites of people buried at Denver, Colorado's Fort Logan National Cemetery. "Sure, Fourth of July is a great holiday, but Memorial Day is for the heart."

A man salutes a gravestone on Memorial Day.
A man salutes a gravestone on Memorial Day.

Fort Logan National Cemetery is named for John Alexander Logan, a commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In 1868, Logan issued the order to establish the Memorial Day Act to commemorate deceased members of the military by placing flowers on their graves, according to the National Cemetery Administration.

For Joyce Prince, Memorial Day carried a special meaning this year, as she recently lost her husband.

"I'm a fairly recent widow — not even two years yet — and it's still very hard to even think of my husband," Prince said. "But I'm proud of him, and I miss him, and it's wonderful to be here with others in the same situation and honoring them is so important."

Memorial markers for Utahns who served in the U.S. military.

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Mikel Burroughs traveled from Texas to Denver to continue a seven-year tradition of laying roses on thousands of gravesites.

"Let's ensure everyone here is remembered, every sacrifice is honored and every grave is adorned with the love and respect it deserves," he said.

Burroughs' organization, Victory for Veterans, gathered volunteers, including local Boy Scouts, to distribute more than 5,000 roses in the Fort Logan National Cemetery, he said.

Burroughs said he coordinated similar efforts at 10 cemeteries across the country including in Texas, Wyoming, Illinois, North Carolina and Minnesota.

People gather for a Memorial Day celebration.
People gather for a Memorial Day celebration.

"My motivation is pay respect to all our veterans that have passed as well as those that made the ultimate sacrifice and to help with our mission to save our veterans that are struggling with other invisible wounds," he said.

Hunter Semingsen, a youth member of Mountain View Young Marines, helped set up chairs for the Memorial Day event in Denver.

"I'm a little sad that we have lost so many men and women that have served for our country," he said. "I'm a little bit honored that so many of these men and women served for us."