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Hundreds come out for Wood National Cemetery Memorial Day services

Posted at 5:12 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 20:57:04-04

On this Memorial Day, military friends and families roamed the lawn at Wood National Cemetery.

The rows and rows of headstones fall in perfect lines no matter where the eye falls. A fitting final resting place for those who gave it all serving in the military. 

While smells of barbecues will surely fill the afternoon air of the last Monday in May, the day quite suddenly changes for many families when tragedy strikes close to home. 

"Ten years ago," Lennie Nelson said. "It was very, very tough. The hardest thing I've ever gone through."

Lennie and his wife Susan lost their son Ricky on April 14, 2008. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

It's a day that flipped their life upside down and completely changed this unofficial beginning of summer into something much more important.

"It's not what it used to be," Susan said. "It used to be all about picnics, getting together with friends. Now, it's a day we set aside to remember."

The solemn ceremony at Wood National Cemetery was overwhelming. Wreaths were laid to pay respects.

Individual black balloons were released one by one into the warm, summer sky, recognizing POWs who still haven't been found. Taps played lightly after a moment of silence.

It was a heavy, emotional day but one families look forward to in remembering their loved ones. 

"This day is for all of us to pause, to honor, to remember," Gary Kunich, Public Relations Director at the VA Medical Center said. "Please, do not wish me a happy Memorial Day today."

While the ceremony wasn't just for Ricky, it served as a great reminder that his, nor other service members' sacrifices were in vain. 

"It's humbling to see how many different people put their lives on the line for this country," Lennie Nelson said. "We are honored to have a son that was willing to put it all on the line."