Observance held in Jacksonville to honor the fallen for Memorial Day

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A ceremony took place in Jacksonville to honor fallen service members Monday.

Families, friends, and city officials gathered at the Coastal Carolina State Veteran’s Cemetery to pay their respects. Memorial Day is about remembering those who served and lost their life.

“It is a celebration of the dead,” said Leroy Dukes, a parent of a fallen soldier. “To honor them for serving this beloved country.”

During the ceremony, names of the servicemembers who have died over the last year were recognized. After every name, the bell rang in their memory.

“Every time we read the names off,” said Veteran, Harry Weatherly. “There’s a few more all the time.”

Dukes knows the feeling of losing a loved one. His son, Michael served in the Army and died while on duty.

“He died in Germany,” Dukes said. “He meant so much to us. When you lose somebody like that, it feels like a fantasy. It doesn’t seem real. As the years progress, you never get over the moment because it will always be there.”

Dukes lost his son in 2003, over 20 years ago. However, he says he remembers when he got the news like it was just yesterday.

“When you have two uniform officers a short view of your house waiting for you,” Dukes said. “You have a problem somewhere, and that’s what it was. He had pass and I really miss him.”

Though this holiday is to remember the ones who died, it is also a way to bring the community together.

“Everywhere we look in here,” Weatherly said. “We got family.”

On the headstones in the cemetery, people placed coins to show family members of the ones who died that people paid their respects for the fallen on Memorial Day.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971 by an act of congress.