ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) – Cunningham Memorial Park in St. Albans held a Memorial Day service Monday morning to remember and mourn all men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Military.

“Why we’re here is to honor the passed on veterans that gave the ultimate sacrifice that we have our freedom today,” American Legion Post 73 Commander Rex Eggleton said.  

For veterans, giving one’s life for the freedom of their nation is one of the greatest honors.

“Those who fell in battle, those who have passed before us, that’s what this day is about,” Former U.S. Army Sergeant and current President of Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary 6418 Dale Withrow said. “We can show our gratitude and honor to those who died so we can have this freedom to do this event today.

Memorial Day dates all the way back to the Civil War, though this day honors all fallen men and women who have served.

Six wreaths were placed during the ceremony near the flag, and each one symbolized a different local veterans group and West Virginia veterans.

“This is not a weekend for hotdogs and barbeques and stuff. That’s fun, and I’m glad they do that, but they also need to remember that they have the freedom to do that because of the people here in this cemetery. Because of the people who have gone before us and sacrificed everything,” Withrow said.

Those who serve this country and do not return not only lose their lives, but their families must continue living without their loved ones. 

“That’s the hardest part. Serving, you give up stuff, but to know how a person feels when they actually sacrifice their life, this is the least we can do, and I am so proud to be part of that,” former U.S. Air Force crew chief and current American Legion member Robert Flenner said.

Flenner said he will never forget when he received orders for Vietnam.  

“I have a letter that I found recently and that I wrote to my mom, and said, ‘They’re sending me to Vietnam. I have no idea why. They won’t tell me,’” Flenner said.

Flenner said he is proud to have served in the Air Force, and he is thankful to be alive.  

“We were caught off base, and we were upstairs in a building, and below us we found out their NVA was downstairs, so I came close to being a POW, and that still makes me shake a little bit today how that could have happened,” Flenner said.

The ceremony echoed the message that veterans who never came back home after serving will never be forgotten not only on Memorial Day, but every day.