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Respectful remembrance on Memorial Day

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American flags sit aside military gravestones at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 (Tom Dees / FOX13 News) American flags sit aside military gravestones at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 (Tom Dees / FOX13 News)
American flags sit aside military gravestones at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 (Tom Dees / FOX13 News) American flags sit aside military gravestones at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 (Tom Dees / FOX13 News)
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Tradition lived on as the Mid-South honored American war vets this Memorial Day.

Hundreds gathered at West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery in Germantown to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans, their families, and other proud Americans took part in the service. They paid tribute to those who've served and those who continue to dedicate their lives to our country.

"This day is about honoring the people that gave their lives and gave some part of their lives to preserve our freedom," said Al Rome, USMC Reserve (ret.), who served 41 years in the Marine Corps Reserve.

In the words of many veterans today is not a day off. It is a day to be spent in a respectful remembrance of our military servicemen and women who gave it all in the name of freedom.

"My thoughts on the day, this country, has given up a lot of lives for it's freedom, and I don't think that people care nearly enough," Rome said.

The Commemorative Air Force flew a missing man formation over head to honor those servicemen and women lost.  

"This Memorial Day is special to me," Rome said. I have a lot of friends in the ground. I got more Marine friends in the ground than I have in my friendships."
 
The cemetery was decorated with thousands of flags for those who served their country.

"I thank God for them. I thank God for the families they left behind," Rome said. "I pray to God that this country will wake up and believe that their military is important."
 
There was not enough room under a tent provided to shade the crowd from the sun, and veterans here like that, they'd like to see more people come out.

"This day is about honoring the people that gave their lives and gave some part of their lives to preserve our freedom, and that's the greatest gift that God ever bestowed upon a nation," Rome said. "I think we are abusing it now.
 
"Can you imagine landing, going up on a coral reef, the door or the ramp going down on the landing craft. You step off up to your neck in water and wade to shore pushing bodies aside. The water is blood red. One of my friends did.
 
"Respect those who died enough to tell your children what patriotism is."

It is estimated that about 65,000 veterans live in Memphis and Shelby County. You run into one, make sure you tell them thank you for their service.

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