Hundreds gathered at the cemetery of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Lakewood on Monday to focus on the real meaning behind Memorial Day.
“Today we remember the generations of heroes who have given everything they have for something greater than themselves,” Col. Nicole Lucas shared with the crowd.
Col. Lucas told the group it's important to remember the day is not about honoring veterans or active-duty service members.
"Memorial Day is a day of awareness and reverence, it’s a day we set aside to honor America’s fallen heroes," she said.
Even without the ceremony of the holiday, the reason behind it becomes very real when you walk through the cemetery at JBLM and read the names on the graves there.
Army Ranger Blake Samodell is among those buried at the base's cemetery. For his family, every day is like Memorial Day.
“He was an Army Ranger, very brave, very patriotic, very strong-willed,” his mother Vicki Stickney said. It's been nearly 14 years since he died, but they still come for regular visits and hope younger generations remember the meaning behind the holiday.
"I hope they don’t forget, they learn, they remember what it’s all about.”
Veteran Eddie Hamilton was also at the service. He served in Vietnam and the Gulf War and came to honor those who never made it home.
Hamilton said, "There were some people who I served with who lost their lives during those times and I do my best to respect and honor their memory."